I described my life recently, and other women dealing with cancer, have described their lives as having “A new normal.” There’s no going back after a diagnosis like mine, there’s no turning back the clock and living like I did Before Cancer (my own version of BC). The New Normal (NN) consists of knowing that chances are good that someday I’ll die from this cancer, although the hope keeps getting brighter that I’ll live longer than initially predicted. I hang onto that hope, I pray for that hope, and I shut out anything that doesn’t reflect that hope. The NN is one that finds me with one breast, and I’m OK with that. I had maybe a few days of mourning Lefty, my Notatata (I think my first instinct for the name was the right one 😉 ), but after those few days, I was honestly able to go back to thinking:
The cancer is gone. I’m just glad the cancer is gone.
I’ve lived through six months of intense once/week chemotherapy of three drugs — Taxol, Carboplatin, and Herceptin — and I was lucky enough not to have to skip a week of treatment, although I did have to postpone a treatment by two days when I was severely dehydrated from getting so sick from the treatment towards the end of it. That calls for no congratulations to me; that’s just dumb luck that my body was able to withstand the treatment. Some people can and some can’t. I got lucky with it, very blessed with it.
My NN includes saying “No” to things that I realize that I just can’t do because my body is too weak or because I don’t have the stamina for things that I used to be able to do. Someday, probably, but not now. It will take time to re-build the strength that I’ve lost. My NN has taught me that it’s not only OK to say “yes” when people ask if they can help, but it’s OK to ask for help. It’s been a humbling experience and it took me awhile to fully embrace people’s offers of help (those outside my family, that is), but when things got to the point of accepting help or not being able to play with my son like I wanted to, I learned that I needed to humble myself to actually ask for help. And you know what? — people responded. People want to help. One of the woman who has helped a great deal with taking care of Nate has told me how much helping us has helped her; she tells me how gracious I am for letting people help me. That’s a whole other post in itself.
My NN is still weekly maintenance chemotherapy appointments. My NN will soon be 5 days/week of radiation for 6 1/2 weeks. My NN is, for now, wearing a temporary prosthesis (fluff) until the radiation is over. It’s annoying, but I have to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, it’s a very small deal. Someday I’ll get to wear my real prosthesis and I’ll probably be really excited about it and give all of you TMI about my real prosthesis and yes, probably have to name her!! HAHAHA!! My NN is short hair which I can’t decide whether to keep really short or to grow out. Hair that’s straight instead of wavy like before and hair that’s fine and won’t hold gel instead of thick and will hold anything like before. Small things, yes, but noticeable.
My NN consists of my touching my port area at least once/day and touching Notatata — in a tender way — at least once/day. Don’t worry, touching Notatata is reserved for private times — bedtime, or getting up in the morning. No, I don’t do that with intact Righty either. Just Lefty, Notatata. It’s almost a “we’re OK . . . we’re alive” touch. Tender and loving — I don’t mean for that to sound pornographic or anything; it’s anything but. It’s certainly a long way from the few days when I thought it was incredibly ugly. I can look at it with tenderness and love and think that losing that breast saved my life. In my angrier days, I can remember feeling like the author of the book I’m now reading, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy (Geralyn Lucas) felt when she said:
I remember when my breasts were not something that could kill me.
I have to say that my NN sometimes has me questioning whether I should have asked my surgeon about having a double mastectomy, although my oncologist really thought it wasn’t necessary. I just have to hope, pray, and trust her.
There is beauty in my NN too, I have to admit. It has definitely put things into perspective for me. Life and love are the most important things to me now. My little family of Nate and Frank have to come before anything else. My faith has been strengthened a great deal. I am blessed with incredible friends and family, and I seem to have more patience. Well, most of the time except when I don’t. Heh. Yes, I am still full of contradictions, but then again, who of us isn’t?
Did I even blog that I saw my radiation oncologist and I love her? I know I could just look, but I need to go to bed and so I won’t. I go in tomorrow for a “simulation” — they’ll make a mold of Notatata and my left underarm area so they can radiate the lymph nodes because the one that was cancerous got “out of its capsule” which the Dr. Radiation Oncologist (Dr. RO) said could spread to the other lymph nodes. She was more concerned about the cancerous lymph node than either the surgeon or the oncologist. And I get the tattoos on the areas that will be radiated. The following week I start radiation treatments.
But, overall I feel good. I still get tired and I do like some naps. OK, I lurve some naps. That may not change for awhile. But, God willing, I’m getting healthy. Healthier. For a woman with metastatic breast cancer, that sure as heck is something to shout praise about, so HALLELUJAH!!!
And they all said:
It’s a New Normal
but if I’m around to see it,
and love it,
I’ll take it. 😀
As always, Stand Up To Cancer.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.