Recover Living Life After Treatment A New Normal
Life after breast cancer treatment usually takes on a whole new meaning for most survivors. It could mean establishing a new set of priorities, altering your lifestyle, re-evaluating your purpose in life, even embarking on a new career. For some women, the experience of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer provides opportunities that they would not have considered before their diagnosis.
Whatever your breast cancer experience means to you, before you resume your life, it might be beneficial to stop and reflect upon what you just went through: You had breast cancer, and that is no small bump in the road.
Your family, friends and colleagues may expect you to be “back to normal” when treatment is over. But for you, “normal” may not look the same or mean the same thing as it did before your diagnosis. And it might not be so easy to pick up where you left off in your life before breast cancer.
You may feel different physically and you may feel differently about your body, self-image and relationships once treatment is over. Sometimes it can be difficult to manage all of the expectations you have for your life and your transition back to “normal.”
Each survivor’s transition back to “normal” is different. Some become anxious about the potential for recurrence; some move forward with their lives and put their experience behind them; others become warriors for the cause and devote their lives to helping fellow survivors.
The search for what is your "new” normal is the culmination of your breast cancer experience. It can define your identity and the path you take on your journey to recovery. It becomes a chance for you to make some choices and take charge of how your life goes while you're in the recovery process.
A “new” normal can apply to others in your life as well. The way you choose to live your life after treatment could mean a “new” normal for your family and the people around you. Your family, friends and even your co-workers should understand that just because treatment is over doesn't mean that you're going to be able to jump right back into your commitments, whether it’s being the neighborhood chauffeur for the kids’ soccer games, doing it all by being “super woman” or “super mom” or taking frequent business trips every month.
In addition, part of your transition to your “new” normal after treatment is your return to work. You may find yourself rethinking your priorities, deciding to try a different career path or change to part-time work -- especially if you discover that you still feel tired for a period of time after treatment is over. If so, then communicate with your employer and co-workers about where you are in your recovery, try to negotiate for more flexible work hours and clarify expectations for your performance.
However, if you are a survivor living with metastatic breast cancer, “new” normal has a whole other meaning. It’s about adjusting to living with cancer every day, managing your ongoing treatment and maintaining your quality of life. And, unfortunately, a “new” normal in this case isn’t always as positive as it is for a survivor who has completed treatment.
Being a survivor, in some ways, is a very liberating thing. Women often emerge from their breast cancer experience with a newfound confidence and are stronger, bolder and better than ever before. They feel empowered to take charge of their lives and enjoy living on a new level.
Defining your “new” normal and your survivor identity are synonymous. They both can open up a world of opportunities if you embrace it.
Here are some resources that might help you better understand how to define your “new normal”:
After Breast Cancer Will My Life Ever Return To Normal?
Working with Cancer
A New Normal: It’s Here to Stay
For more information on “new” normal, go to Breast Cancer Partner’s Resources. You can also share your knowledge and success with other survivors in our Partner Forum or at Survivor Tips.