Yesterday, right after I posted my Mindful Monday post about Courageous Women with Cancer, I decided to pronounce this Courageous Women with Cancer Week. Why not, right?As we all know, the courage needed to face cancer doesn’t end once treatment is over. In fact, once treatment is finished, we’re left with a challenge of even greater proportion – how to live a life forever changed by cancer.
Being diagnosed with cancer and facing sickness, mortality, body image issues, anxiety, loneliness, stress, and angerchanges a person. It also changes a life. The truth is that re-entering our old, “normal” lives just isn’t possible. Whether we like it or not, our lives have morphed into the “new normal.”
Over the past three years, I’ve met women who’ve faced the changes of cancer and constructed a “new normal” of power and meaning. Lockey Maisonneuve, a personal trainer, is now the moving force behind MovingOn rehabilitative exercise program for breast cancer survivors. Barbara Bair was a high school English teacher who loved her job and did not want to retire. Now, she cherishes her work with the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project and Operation Bling. In fact, each and every woman I’ve met through the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project amazes me in her dedication to educating medical professionals to see patients as whole women with complicated lives above and beyond their cancer.
If you’re asking yourself “Where do I go now after cancer?” or any other life changing event, for that matter, you are not alone. Change is scary. Transitions are often painful. But I have never experienced a transition (and I’ve gone through quite a few) which didn’t ultimately enrich my life. In fact, it was the moment I created my Gifts & Losses List that I knew I was moving out of the darkness of cancer and into the light of my “new normal.” The power of making that list has never left me.
It can be extremely frightening to end up on a road you never thought you’d be traveling. But you can embrace the “new normal” and create a life of adventure and excitement. I know you can, because I did. We are all courageous women with cancer and in the many changes we have and will experience, there is great power.
Happy first day of Spring! It’s a perfect day to throw open a window and courageously make some changes! Let me how your life has changed post-cancer. Do you find yourself reacting more courageously to change because of your cancer experience?
Survival > Existence,