Finding the “new normal”

February 25, 2010


Yesterday I shared with Dale that I am just about on the other side of the “bridge.” My shattered pieces are coming together; I am adjusting to and accepting the reality I had cancer.  That might sound so simple, adjust and accept, but for me has been a battle.

First, I wasn’t supposed to have cancer and if I was to ever have cancer, shouldn’t it be breast cancer and not this rare one called mantle cell lymphoma?  Women are indoctrinated if we are to have cancer, it will be breast cancer.

These last months were necessary. I had cancer and cancer is a part of my history and life. Recently, I reflected on how quickly everything happened; the surgeon and biopsy, the diagnose, preparing to leave for Salt Lake City, meeting with the doctors, the explanation of MCL (those crazy diagrams that Dr. Greg drew for me and I still don’t understand them!), all the paperwork, all the tests and within ten days of finding out I had cancer, beginning chemotherapy.

And I chuckle, when Dale and I went down to SLC for my doctor’s appointment and evaluation, we were under the belief that after all the initial consultation and testing, we were coming home to Montana and then we would return for each chemotherapy cycle. I kind of vaguely remember the expressions on Dr. Glenn and Dr. Pollack’s faces when we mentioned this plan to them. As it finally dawned on us that this was not going to happen, it was a real punch to the kisser.

Since diagnose, the certainty of the life I lived and expected to live became unsure, uncertain and insecure. From April 17, 2008 to last week I couldn’t trust. I couldn’t trust myself, I couldn’t trust longevity, I couldn’t trust people, I couldn’t trust the future; I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know how to talk, I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t have a plan and I didn’t have goals.

This is so unlike me, I knew that and I knew I needed help.

Unless we aggressively pursue the new normal and work toward being upbeat about the outcome, we’ll continue to struggle and constantly waffle from highs to lows. If we continue to say, “I can’t do that,” we probably can’t. That’s why being positive is so powerful. Once we focus properly, we’re open and ready for good things to happen in our lives. Without the right attitude, we won’t find a meaningful existence. If, however, we turn to positive prayer, we can become as effective – and perhaps more effective – than we were before. We’ll be different. We may be limited in some ways, as I was, but life will take on deeper meaning.

When we praise God, in essence we’re saying, “I banish worry and anxiety because I see how you have worked in the past. As I pause to remember and to reflect, I’m able to trust you more for the present needs and for the future.

Some people can banish worry by themselves, but most of us need other people in those difficult and troubled times. Sometimes we need others because we can’t do anything for ourselves.”

From, “Heaven Is Real”

I needed others and I knew that if I was going to overcome my anxiety and insecurity, I would have to reach out to others and have them help me to regain my confidence, definition and purpose.

In recognizing this need, I began blogging again, a family friend gave me the book Heaven Is Real, I asked for the name of a therapist and I asked for prayer. With this stepping out, my life began to shift from shattered to establishing a realistic “new normal.”

The following is the list I shared with Dale. As I wrote down these points, I knew I was well on my way to recovery.

  1. I had cancer. It was shocking and it was scary. I had cancer.
  2. We did survive. Sequestering in the “tunnel of survival” was real; nine months of enduring and persevering.
  3. It was frightening being on the other side of treatment; I felt I was just dropped back into life to pick up where I left off and that is impossible!

I was angry at the GP doctors that dismissed my “bumps” but now I know they evaluated me to the best of their ability and who would have thought a ½ marathon runner and avid nutritionist could possibly have cancer anyway?

  1. I am not afraid to be in the public or meet new people who do not know my history. I feel comfortable with myself.
  2. I went nose to nose with mortality and I am not afraid of it anymore; my citizenship is in heaven. Regardless of that “five year mark”, I will run this race to win! And I will not run but sprint to the finish.
  3. My body did not fail me! It fought valiantly! My body is an Olympian!
  4. I can unequivocally say, “I am cancer free. I had cancer. I am in complete remission.”

Finally, Dale and I feel we are at the dawn of truly exploring retirement. We did not have a chance to celebrate this new freedom of no time constraint and responsibility. Now I can see a future, I am ready to live the future.

Lastly, “Your current situation may be God’s secret weapon to accomplish great things. He works behind the scenes to enable us to fulfill His purpose.

Isn’t that how God works? We learn compassion when we’re ready. We learn to care when we’re open to God’s instructions. Our task is to learn the lessons at the right time.

If we’re teachable, we become divine instruments in the world. That may sound like a grandiose statement, but I believe it. It’s not whether we help two people or two million. What is important is that we change and then use the change in our lives to reach out.

Through prayer, I am asking God to use me in a “purposeful manner” in a “purposeful place” at a “purposeful time.”


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