Finding My New Normal After Losing My Old Normal


I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. February,2015 will be 27 years from the time of my first diagnosis. I have spent almost half my life battling breast cancer.

“Finding your new normal” is one of those popular buzz phrases spoken by oncologists, counsellors, and other cancer survivors. I’ve always felt that this word was like a password to a secret clubhouse that everyone in Cancerland belongs to except for me. Although I know this password, I am obviously missing something that would allow me to gain entry. Maybe a special knock or a secret handshake is also required. While I can spout the phrase “new normal” without difficulty, I’ve never quite understood how those words applied to my life.

If we uttered the phrase “changes to your life” due to cancer, I could easily relate to that. I could draw up a long list of the ways my life changed with the first diagnosis,the first and second mastectomy,the bad reconstruction job,the repeated bouts of cancer,and the discovery that I lived for 16 years under the illusion I was BRCA negative when in fact I was BRCA1 positive all the time.

Maybe I have problems relating to the word “normal”. The changes that happened to my mind, body, and emotions were anything but “normal” as we usually think of the term. Losing my breasts, lymph nodes,fertility,and ovaries may be normal for BRCA positive cancer survivors and previvors but there is nothing normal about that in terms of the population at large. Being diagnosed with 3 separate breast cancers at 29, 34,and 36 is statistically improbable in the breast cancer world. Having a fourth breast cancer at 52 puts me into a rare category that very few breast cancer patients attain (or would want to attain). Top that off with all 4 cancers being of the triple negative variety (not influenced by hormones) which is a reasonably rare breast cancer, and there is very little that is normal about my world.

If we are talking about acknowledging that these things happened to me and that they form part of my present reality, I can do that. Have I fully accepted, embraced, and integrated these changes into my life in a positive and life-affirming manner? Uh no. Although I can be happy and positive much of the time, I am not happy that I had to go through these events at such a young age. I’m also not happy that I had to have my cancer come back over and over and over again. This is my life, this is my reality, this is my world but there is nothing normal about it. And there is little I can do to normalize my experiences so that they make some sort of sense in the context of the rest of my life.

I try to think back to what my old normal was. I was an only child who spent the first 12 years of her childhood growing up in a typical suburban neighborhood. My parents and I attended Baptist church every Sunday and my parents were complete tee-totalers. This “normal” existence underwent a dramatic change in 8th grade when my father went from complete tee-totaler to a full blown raging alcoholic and valium addict in the course of one year. My world was completely turned upside down and I had no idea how to deal with this “new normal”. My father’s alcoholism progressed with great speed and his moods veered between sickeningly sentimental and raging mad, with very little in between. My lifelong battle with anxiety and depression started in the 8th grade and progressively got worse throughout high school.

My mother felt the best way to protect me was to get me out of the house as soon as I graduated high school. We lived in a university town so we planned to find a major that wasn’t offered locally. We hit on Criminology as it was only available 1000 miles a way. Not the best way to plan for your future education, but it achieved its purpose and I was able to leave home at 17.

The next 12 years were the college and early employment years. I attained my BA in Criminology, gained some work experience as a probation officer, went back to university to complete law school and spent a grueling year articling (similar to interning) with a large law firm in Vancouver. I had dated widely, fallen madly in love at least twice, broken a few hearts and had mine broken in return. I never doubted that I would have a law career or that I would marry and raise a family. Those were the fun years filled with plans, hopes, and dreams about the future. After the chaos of growing up in an alcoholic home, I loved my fun filled yet hard working “new normal”.

On the eve of my entry into the legal profession, I had my first cancer diagnosis. It changed me in ways that still affect me today. The career was put on hold. The doctors said no pregnancies for 5 years or else I would die, so marriage and a family were put on hold as well. Although I only had a lumpectomy and radiation, I developed major body image issues as I knew no one even remotely in my age group who had a weird looking mismatched breast. I became shy about dating, not knowing when to break it to them that I had undergone breast cancer treatment. So dating was also put on hold. Fear,anxiety,and social unease became my constant companions after that first diagnosis and continue to haunt me today. Is this considered my first experience with cancer’s “new normal”?

I still believed that being cancer free for 5 years meant you were cured. Over that first 5 year period, I did launch my law career and began dating again. I was offered a promotion and a move to a new city hours before I went for my 5 year mammogram. I told my employer that I would be back shortly, that this mammogram was just a formality, as all prior mammograms had been clear. Unfortunately for me, this mammogram showed cancer again and a mastectomy and 9 months of chemotherapy were my only options. Good-bye promotion. Good-bye new city. And the 5 year no pregnancy rule started from scratch all over again.

I was off work for 18 months. I had lost my last illusion about being cured of cancer. Where the first cancer had brought fear and self-doubt into my life, the second cancer brought a kind of craziness. The world which I always believed was a fair and orderly place, became chaotic and events seemed completely random. Whether I lived or died seemed completely out of my control. Any plans I tried to make for my future seemed to be quashed as soon as they were made. It was clear that there were many things my oncologists did not know, many questions they could not answer. I felt a lot of confusion. It seemed that whenever fate was about to give me a big break, cancer re-entered the picture to turn my dreams to dust. Was this feeling of hopelessness and helplessness my “new normal” for my second cancer?

I had reconstruction surgery which looked bad even from the start. Even doctors and nurses at the Cancer Clinic would comment that I should see another plastic surgeon to try to fix it. My breast resembled a lumpy flattened pancake but as it had taken a long time to heal, I wasn’t eager to go under the knife again. My body image issues and self-consciousness grew considerably worse.

18 months after returning to work, a new cancer was found in the remaining breast. I had a new surgeon who said doctors had recently abandoned the 5 year pregnancy rule and that if I wanted a child, I should hurry up as I was already 36 and could have early ovarian failure due to the chemotherapy. I got married and we soon found ourselves at a fertility clinic. 2 rounds of IVF were unsuccessful so we formulated a Plan B. We started the adoption process and a year later, we had a handsome baby boy. 16 months after that, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl.

I took one of the early BRCA tests and was declared BRCA negative. Life was good. Until one day it wasn’t. The marriage imploded, I was blindsided,and I was left as a single Mom to a 22 month old toddler and a six month old baby. Once again, my hopes and dreams were shattered and life seemed as random and arbitrary as it had during my second cancer.

The years went by, the kids kept growing, and the cancer stayed away. After 16 cancer free years, the cancer came back. I was looking at another mastectomy and more chemotherapy. Only this time around, there were children involved, ages 9 and 11. This time I really was afraid of dying as I didn’t want them to lose their mother at such young ages. The kids were scared too but wouldn’t really say so. My son wanted me to appear as normal as possible and not look like a cancer patient. He wanted me in a wig and full make-up 24/7 (didn’t happen). My daughter would feel sick with vague symptoms on chemo days or oncology visits. She wanted to accompany me to all these appointments as that seemed to make her feel more secure. It was another crazy hysterical chaotic year but we muddled through it somehow.

After cancer 4, I was encouraged to retake the BRCA test as it was now looking at things it hadn’t looked for originally. Suddenly, I was BRCA1 positive and at high risk for ovarian cancer. There was a great rush to have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as soon as possible.

With Cancer 4, I became a bit of a medical curiosity given that I was BRCA1 positive, had an aggressive grade of an aggressive cancer, and had survived for so long without the cancer metastasizing outside my breasts. At work,things were looked at somewhat differently. Between the cancers and the 2 adoption leaves, my coworkers saw me as someone who was rarely at work. The office atmosphere was decidedly chilly upon my return from Cancer 4. My self-esteem was plummeting, I still had side effects from chemo brain, and I started feeling incompetent in a job I had held for 25 years. A year ago, I took a medical leave and have since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

My “newest new normal” now has a mixed diagnosis of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I no longer plan too far ahead for fear of jinxing any happy days that lay ahead. I worry about my children’s future – who will love them and look after them if I am gone? At the same time, I am forever grateful that I get to be their Mom. I try to live each day as if it may be my last.

Is this the “new normal” everyone talks about? Is it some combination of hard lessons learned and the feeling of walking on a trapeeze with no safety net underneath? The feeling that my luck will once again run out and I will be forced to take another spin on the Cancer Roulette Wheel of Fortune? Is it all those scary feelings combined with a fierce protective love for my children that keeps me going forward each day?

What does the “new normal” of cancer feel like to you? Have I completely missed the boat on this one? Is it supposed to be a positive thing or a negative thing? I really would like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Sharon Greene January 15, 2015

56 thoughts on “Finding My New Normal After Losing My Old Normal

  1. Sharon, I always hated, “the new normal,” and accepting that. I have come to see “no normal” in my condition, just a condition to be fought to get to where I want to be. You are a survivor and fighter – Thank God! As on the battlefield in combat – nothing is “normal” you just adjust, survive, fight, move on. Surrender was never an option, or I would not be here today. Thank God you never accepted it either, you are still here today too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right. There is no normal for some of us. I’m glad you are continuing to fight on and that you are doing important work, ministering to the ministers. God is smiling on you for that work. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Sharon you are a great mother. Respects to you. I mean it. Just reading your experience makes me feel heavy in my heart. I think I will never be able to comprehend what you really undergo. But hats off to your courage and will to live for your kids. Your post always makes me think. Loved your post Sharon. Sending lots of love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon – I put off reading your last posting . I’ve had my 1st full chemo after radiation/chemo treatments and my first Neulasta – for this go-round.(I also had triple negative breast cancer three years ago – lumpectomy, localized radiation and chemo). Now I have lung cancer and probably a uterine cancer of some sort – the lung cancer is independent of the breast cancer. I can only say that my heart goes out to you – and the idea of normal is really a bit strange to me too. I was feeling very apprehensive about my reaction to the larger dose of chemo – especially vulnerable – and guess I was afraid of reacting very strongly to whatever you were going to post. As always, I come away from reading your post with only positive thoughts. Indeed, I don’t feel great – but I feel no worse than I did with the lesser amount of chemo and the Neulasta hit as expected – sort of running into a brick wall – at least there were no surprises and I only have one treatment to go. There is just one throught that I keep going back to – I could be in an accident, a piece of a building could fall on me, I could catch a bad case of the flu – it just comes down to the fact that we probably won’t ever know when our time is up – and so somehow, spending too much time on anything but getting treatment and getting better seems sort of senseless. Your story is remarkable. I hope I will continue to feel even a part of the strength and courage you exhibit. Thank you for writing.


    1. Lisa, I am really sorry you are back on the cancer roller coaster again. You say the lung cancer is a new primary. What about the uterine cancer? My mother kept getting new primary cancers in various body parts while I get primary cancers in my breasts.

      When I am in treatment mode, the easiest way for me to cope is to put one foot after the other and take things one day at a time. If even that is too overwhelming on a bad day, I break it down into even smaller time segments like one hour at a time. I am a believer that our time on Earth is pre-destined and you don’t go until it is your time to go. Logically, I shouldn’t still be alive now but it’s just not my time yet. And others take every precaution and still end up with a sudden unexpected heart attack or a freak accident.

      There is really no new normal when you are in active treatment. I’m glad your chemo was no worse than what you”ve had before. And only one chemo left to go! You will stay in my hearts and prayers. Hugs. Sharon.


  4. I don’t like my new normal. I hate it and I’m in denial. I was happy before and I don’t like how things are now. It’s a battle against myself and I know I will lose 🙂
    I admire you enormously!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not crazy about a lot of things in my life either. Some are very good (kids, this blog) and I am extremely grateful for them. Others are not so good. There is very little that is normal about my life now or in the past 27 years. Maybe if I can heal from the PTSD, things will seem a little bit normal.

      I’m really sorry that you are struggling with your new normal. I admire your spirit, courage, and writing abilities greatly!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Sharon for Your stories, it helped Me a lot tonight to know that I am not alone, at all! I am feeling sad tonight, but I will write back soon with My story! Much Love, Janet Juarez

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharon, One heck of a roller coaster ride.
    As a polio victim at the age of four, I can somewhat empathise with your trials. Not caused by the same disease, yet pain and suffering no matter from where it emanates is the same.
    I too have returned to where I bagan. After being paralyzed and needing to be fastened to a chair to sit erect, I then battled through rehab. to get back on my feet with the aid of crutches and leg braces. Today Post Polio Syndrome has placed me back in a chair.
    Yet there are no regrets because polio has led me to many wonderful experiences, friends an colleague; those type of unshallow people who can look beyond the trappings of crippling disease to the heart of a person.
    My friend, all we are left with is the battle that God, has not placed before us, but has permitted, to provide the opportunity to shape ourselves. We can throw in the towel or engage. All battles are not meant to be won. But they all CAN be fought.
    Hang in there Champ!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like it has been a roller coaster ride through life for both of us. Disease has both positive and negative side effects. I have connected with some amazing people because of my cancer experiences. I may never have adopted the 2 wonderful children I have today and that are such a huge part of my life if I had been able to get pregnant. What a loss that would have been! I have positive days and some not so positive days. Sometimes the glass is half full and other times it is half empty. But I guess it was not my destiny to live an average normal life and from the sounds of it, it was not your destiny either. I guess we are unicorns. Thanks for your comments and I will continue hanging in here!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am consistently reestablishing my new normal. I found a new normal after early stage treatment, now I need to find my metastatic new normal. Great piece of writing. Thank you for sharing!


    1. I’m glad to hear you have found a new normal once and I hope you find it again. Just try to avoid all those extremely rare drug side effects that aren’t supposed to be a concern! Thanks for reading and commenting!


    1. No I have yet to find the promised land of the new normal. I think Michael J Fox is pretty great, using his celebrity to raise money, research, and awareness for a hereditary disease that affects him and may affect his children later on (not to mention all the non-celebrity sufferers of this disease).


  8. Wow, Sharon… I’m blown away. First, thank you for writing with such honesty. I too am triple negative (BRCA-2). I detested the term “new normal” from the start. Nothing about this experience is normal. It also implies that this is just the way it is now. Sounds hopeless and depressing to me. To end this with an inspiring anecdote, a co-worker’s dad had male breast cancer 3 different times, but each time he came through and died an old man from something else. I hope the same for you, that you live, cancer-free, to see all the beautiful milestones ahead in your children’s lives. You surely deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I never really understood why or how I was supposed to find my new normal. I liked my old normal just fine. My “new normal”, if I have one at all is much more cynical and much more wary of the future than my old normal ever was.

      I am sorry to hear that you also have a BRCA mutation. Triple negative cancer seems to be highly associated with the mutation.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments!


  9. There is no normal life is forever changing and we do what we can with what we can control. The things we cannot control we cannot worry about.
    I grew up with a Mom with MS; married and had 11 beautiful children [ all children are beautiful], one son had infantile apnea; we had a house fire and nearly lost one baby that I crawled through a fire to save; had another son burned by someone scaring him where he ran into a pot of boiling water; a crazy lady tried to steal my last son; hit by a car ended up with TBI, found out my daughter had breast cancer, got her into a cancer clinic – resolved the cancer to find the chemo had destroyed her organs and she would not survive that – buried my daughter; took over her organization for cancer patients – Jesicha’s Hope. AND I am still standing here and this is my life a complex tapestry of bright colors and dark colors but it is me.
    I am not like you or anyone else; we weave our tapestry and make it what it is. I look forward to each new day and take the present as ‘present’, a gift that I take joy in receiving. I keep dreaming and I keep creating. My young said very profoundly for such a boy. when you stop dreaming and creating you stop living and everyone should die in the middle of a project. He was talking about my daughter, his sister as everyone cried over her unfinished English garden in her front yard – it was unfinished it was as he said the project she had to leave right in the middle. It was her life – a testimony to living and never stopping to weave that tapestry.
    Normal or new normal – a phrase that categorizes taking our uniqueness from us – and that we are: Unique and never normal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! You have a very compelling story of love, loss, and everything in between. You are right – calling something normal reduces it to something average or the same as everything else. We are all unique people facing our own challenges and creating joy where we can find it. What does your organization Jesicha’s Hope try to do to help cancer patients? It is wonderful to have a living legacy for your daughter.


  10. Sharon, once again, you have posted a thought-provoking, excellent post. You have been through so much; I totally get the PTSD part of it. And the marriage imploding part of it. And the infertility part of it.

    Regarding the phrase “new normal,” I can only give my opinion. I don’t think it exists. There’s no normal, and that’s the problem: people want to believe they are in a “normal” situation, but they are not. Everybody’s situation is different.

    I’m different since breast cancer. Not better, in some ways worse, and definitely cannot fit into the category of “new normal.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m different too since cancer, in some ways better and in many ways worse. My life has been so abnornal for so long, I find it hard to relate to so-called normal people’s problems. Cancer has such a rippling effect. Chemotherapy led to infertility which eventually led to the adoption of 2 children (which is very good). But if these children were meant to be mine, couldn’t unexplained infertility have led to the same result without involving cancer in the whole mess? And if there were life lessons I was meant to learn, could they not have waited a few decades until my career was launched and my home situation was stable? I may sound like I’m whining but that really isn’t my intent. I would just like to go back to a world where cancer wasn’t lurking around every corner ready to pop out when I’m least expecting it. I would like to have my old innocent belief system back where if you tried hard, good things happened to you instead of waiting for cancer to come back and destroy all your plans and dreams. I would like that kind of normal back but so far at least, it has been unattainable.


      1. Cancer does have a rippling effect! My life would be different too, if I hadn’t had three bouts of breast cancer, the last one metastatic & heart failure from chemo. I wouldn’t be on a long, long waiting list to get a low income apartment in the SF Bay Area, and facing homelessness. I would still be working & providing for myself as I did when I was healthy. Yes, sometimes I get pretty upset about my situation. And I am scared. Waiting for that fourth bout with cancer. Wondering if me and my dog will be living in my car. No, this is not normal. It is certainly no where near the life I thought I would have at age 55. But it is MY life. 😊 and I have to keep moving forward. And I will.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am sorry that you have been on the wrong end of the Cancer wheel of fortune. Your story is tragic and far from normal or what you once imagined your life would be. I hope you get that housing soon and that your oncologists and heart doctors have a lot of things left in their medicine kits to keep you living for many years to come. I admire your strong spirit to keep fighting your way through all the crap that cancer has thrown your way. I hope you continue to write in to update me on your life. Hugs and prayers. Sharon


  11. I don’t know how someone could call dealing with cancer that many times “normal” you obviously are a survivor and very strong person who has managed to somehow maintain a semblance of normal in your life and raise your children in a ‘normal’ home.
    I think people have an amazing ability to adapt. i know when I was in an abusive relationship, abuse became “normal” for the relationship I was in and I thought it was ‘just the way we were” and it was my lot in life.
    But that was something I could do something about, I could leave and did. I tried to find my “old self’ after leaving and ended up trying to be the best me I could be. I think life brings events and circumstances into our lives and we adapt, we accept what we can’t change and change what we can and all we can do through any of it is to be the best we can be.
    From what I read of your life you are doing just that. It is not a journey that has an end, I think we all should make it a life’s effort to be the best we can be. Life is not stagnant, it is ever changing even if at times we wish it would give us a break for awhile and it isn’t all bad either.
    I think you are an amazingly strong woman and I don’t think I could be as strong faced with your challenges but then none of us know how strong we are until faced with the challenge and we manage to get through it somehow.
    I don’t believe there is a normal, I wouldn’t even know how to define normal any more. Personally I think of normal as being boring I want to be extraordinary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are an extraordinary woman Carrie! I admire your strength and courage very much. I am trying to give my children the best I can give even when I had my year with cancer with them when they were 9 and 11. I have learned some life lessons along the way and I have learned to adapt to some of the challenges cancer has brought into my life. My life certainly didnt turn out as I expected but there have been highs as well as lows. Thank you Carrie for all your supportive comments. This was one of those posts where I had the queasy stomach before pushing publish.


  12. Thanks for this “straight-from-the-heart” piece. I am amazed by your fortitude and blessed by your honest.
    There is nothing “normal” when cancer slams into your life. I hope that sharing your story helps you; I know it helps others.
    You are a most excellent writer. You have a special way of engaging the reader. I love reading your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your kind comments! It helps me to write about these things and it helps when others read them and realize that they are not alone with their feelings. There is nothing normal about the cancer experience that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s quite the history of negatives and positives, some scary positives (BRCA1). And to hear that your father went from abstaining alcohol to a raging, and you were encouraged to leave for college asap.

    Still a long road ahead; your children need you. No shame or needed passwords here.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Sharon,
    Thanks for sharing your story – I recognised many of the things in it. I think it would be easier to get used to the “new normal” if things stayed constant and you could rebuild your life on a solid foundation. Unfortunately for you – and me – just as you start to get comfortable again, and things settle down, and you dare to think that cancer is part of your history, rather than your life, the carpet is yanked out from under your feet again, and the whole nightmare starts again.

    I have had three recurrences of my breast cancer, and the last one was in the groin, so it has spread and I am now “advanced”. I had my last chemo in April last year, and am due to go back to work in March – but I have no work (I sold my business last new year, just before my 3rd round of chemo), I’m a single mum and I have the constant knowledge that the cancer will come back, so who’s going to employ me? This “new normal” is a frightening place to be – it’s no wonder you’re loathe to identify with it! I also have a 9-year-old boy, and he simultaneously keeps me going and is my biggest worry.

    Good luck with riding the waves of this storm – I think that’s pretty much the best we can do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that is it exactly. By the time I got my emotional equilibrium back after one cancer, another one came along to knock me off my feet again. The new cancers seem to happen whenever things are going well or at least better. They also seemed to happen once I let my guard down, thinking the cancer nightmare was finally over. It feels I have built and rebuilt my life over and over again since cancer first struck at 29.

      I am sorry to hear that your breast cancer came back a third time and spread to your groin. That must be very difficult news to swallow, particularly as a single parent of a 9 year old who still needs his Mom desperately. Just keep hanging on for both of your sakes. It is hard and unfair and so far from normal but I hope the oncologists have a whole arsenal of resources they can call upon to keep the cancer at bay. Thank you so very much for sharing your story here. Sending big hugs your way!


  15. Normal? I have no idea what it is. I was 19 at my first cancer (thyroid) diagnosis. Then 26 years later along came breast cancer. I don’t feel like I was ever a normal adult. If you ever figure out what normal really is, please let me know as I am still trying to figure it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m right there with you Caroline! Unfortunately, I have no idea what normal is like for those of us with multiple cancers or whose cancers struck us at an early age
      before our adult selves had truly blossomed and taken root. My adult experiences have always been seen through cancer’s dark looking glass. All the milestones that come so easily for others (marriage, family, career) were hard battles for me to achieve and ended up being quite different experiences than the “normal” one. I truly appreciate your comments on this post.


    1. Dee, being an avid reader of your blog, I know the difficulties you have faced to date. If a “new normal” truly exists and is a positive thing, then I hope you find yours quickly and that it is a lasting one!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. It is absolutely true that a cancer diagnosis changes you permanently; the physical and mental scars caused by your body letting you down, the valiant attempts to get rid of the disease and the fact that you can no longer (for a while at least) feel fully like you’re on the same schedule as the rest of the world all conspire to remove you from “normality”.

    When I was first diagnosed in 2002, I was “fortunate” to have had a cancer which is one of those universally stated as a “good one”, meaning that typically most patients get some chemo, a few zaps of radiation and are good to go for the rest of their lives. Two or three years after that I was still cancer free and something like normality had reasserted itself; my experiences distant enough that I no longer thought about cancer every day.

    Here I am in 2015 about to embark on round four of my bout with this “good” cancer, having been told by my doc that no matter what is done for me now, the probability of a lasting remission is pretty slim. My personal “new normal” has been through a number of changes over the years and continues to evolve but I will always feel somewhat at a remove from the rest of the world; being unusual can be a lonely place sometimes.

    Here’s to you, me and any others like us continuing to be medical oddities and here’s to continuing to beat the odds, no matter how they’re stacked against us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry that you are in the 4 time cancer survivor club too. Sometimes it really sucks to be so unique and special. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about being lonely and at a remove from the rest of the world. I did manage to hit most of the same milestones as the rest of the world (career, marriage, children) but they came much later and were so hard fought for, that they seemed totally different experiences than what came so easily to everyone else.

      If we must be medical oddities, then as they say in The Hunger Games, “may the odds be always in your favour”. I wish that for you and me both Ian. Thank you so much for sharing your story here!


  17. First of all, I can’t believe that they thought you were BRCA negative for so long and then you found out you weren’t! What a shock that must have been! You have been through so much and I am in awe of your strength.

    As for a “new normal,” I don’t know if I believe in it. I think it’s just a “fluffy” way of saying that things will be different and you’re gonna have to suck it up and deal with it. Sorry if that’s too blunt. Anything that is “fluffy” when it comes to cancer annoys me. One of the nurses where I got radiation had a picture of a big fluffy cat that said something about cancer not being fluffy and I appreciated that.

    I have never felt like I have had a “new normal.” I don’t see how you possibly could after all of those surgeries and chemo, etc. I sometimes wonder if I’ll get to a point where I’ll feel like I’ve gotten to that illusive “new normal” spot after my 5-year mark (in May), but I highly doubt it. (I also wonder when I’ll stop having anxiety just by driving on the same street that the cancer center is on! It hasn’t happened yet.) I think we all just have to do the best we can and speak openly and honestly about our experiences so that people stop believing that cancer is only pink and fluffy.

    Many hugs to you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The original BRCA tests didn’t look for major deletions of code in the genes. It turned out that I was missing the last 4 sections of my BRCA1 gene. The genetic counsellor compared it to a book with the last 4 chapters ripped out. Yes, it was a huge shock to find out I had been given the wrong information 16 years earlier. But it was also a relief to know as it explained why I had so many cancers.

      I agree that my “new normal”, if I have one at all, mostly consists of things I just have to live with, even though I don’t like them. Nothing fluffy about that! Hugs back to you! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. IMHO, there is no “new normal” when you are a survivor of cancer multiple times coupled with other medical issues. We just do the best we can. Love our children/family, have a couple of productive days during the week, try not to dissolve into worry & try be kind to ourselves. This journey is just our life. As you stated previously, it is a bumpy ride, but I am so happy & humbled to still be on the ride. xoxo. Love reading your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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