Friday, May 11, 2012

New Normal

It’s amazing how much things change: your body, your opinion of yourself (for better and worse), your relationships with other people (again, for better and worse), your goals and purpose in life, your wants and needs, hell even your brain chemistry.  I often wake up and wonder “how the hell did I get here from there?”.

I was thinking last night about the day I got my diagnosis and how horrible and awful that whole day was, yet that was my last day as 'normal'.  I remember crying on the phone with the pathologist.  I remember crying when I told my boss and how he hugged and told me it was all going to be ok.  I remember making Nate come pick me up and how I couldn’t even get the words out to tell him why.  He knew anyway.  I remember calling my mom to tell her and thinking that I couldn’t possibly text “I have cancer” to her because that would just be a horrible way to tell anyone about it.  I remember how unreal it all felt and how much I cried and couldn’t believe this was happening. I remember thinking that I knew the severity of my diagnosis, when the reality was that it would take several months and many doctor trips before I really knew.

I often wonder when things will get back to “normal”.  When will I be normal again?  When will I think about myself as normal? When will I settle in to the reality that I face now?

The truth is that THIS is the new normal. That yes, the cancer could come back. That yes, I’ll have to take a chemo drug every day for the next five years.  That yes, I have scars and I dislike a part of myself that I used to really love.  That yes, the last 7 months have taken 10 years off my life. That yes, my odds of survival for another 20 years is only 50/50.  But isn’t anyone’s odds only 50/50 every day?  Anything could happen and we can’t know the future.  We have to get comfortable with the present and be ok with the unknown, because nothing is certain. You could get cancer tomorrow. You could step off a curb and be hit by a car. Or, you could have the most amazing day of your life.

This is how you can be terrified and care-free all at once.  I’m scared of the things that could happen, but I’m not going to let it stop me from living an awesome life as often as possible.  I won’t let it stop me from enjoying the sunshine on a beautiful day or picking a gardenia for a sweet friend. That’s who I am.  Cancer can’t take that away from me.  It’s taken so much and changed me in so many ways, but it can’t have who I am.  So I’m getting comfortable with accepting what is now the new normal.  New boundaries are erected and a new list of things I will not accept are in place.  But there’s also a new openness to things I would have never thought possible before.  

I’m grateful for every bit of it.