When normal isn’t normal and fine isn’t fine

This entry was written by Randi Rentz. Randi gives us a great perspective of why healing physically from breast cancer is completely different than healing mentally from breast cancer.

As a breast cancer survivor, you know you have come through an extensive and grueling journey. You handled it, you may have shed tears or even bawled your eyes out, you were beyond highly anxious, and you may have even become emotionally paralyzed with fear. But you survived “the pink bubble,” including the treatment. Perhaps you are still taking that journey, and for others, the main recovery process and the support meetings are over. Others may not be able to bring themselves to yet another support group meeting.

After all, you are supposed to be “fine” now, right?  But you may not be. You have gone through the lengthy and complicated physical trauma that is associated with breast cancer. When physical healing has been completed, even after a long period of time, as a “pink bubble survivor,” you may often feel sapped and your ability to manage emotionally becomes twisted when all the support systems provided during treatment are then… WITHDRAWN.

You are expected to recuperate quickly once you have been “mended” physically, but the emotional distress to your life is something you may still be dealing with LONG after your treatment is over.

Some family members, friends and co-workers who were there for you during the “worst of it” now look forward to you getting back into your so-called normal life. Some people may want you to act as if nothing happened or perhaps as if it weren’t as bad as it was. Yes, there are people out there like that!  But, you still feel like you are NOT over it. Now that you are no longer in “Cancerville,” and you have spent all your inner strength to carry on, you find yourself drained and exhausted – almost like a delayed reaction.

So how do you deal with emotional exhaustion from breast cancer? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Eat balanced, healthy meals during this period. Take a look at your lifestyle and eating habits and make conscious choices to modify your diet toward healthy foods.
  • Exercise is very important to women in the healing phase. Walking is an excellent way to exercise the entire body. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best work-outs for you.
  • Nourish the psychological healing process. Many women experience grief just as they would if they lost a loved one. The grief is for the loss of their sense of stability, or wholeness, or “normal life”.
  • Meditate.
  • Try a support group. They help many women reach that place of emotional healing. Others rely on family and friends to talk things through.
  • There are many things that have happened to women during their time in “the pink bubble,” in which we don’t have any choices, but taking control of our body and helping it heal is one way we can call the shots.
  • Or if all else fails, eat chocolate and buy yourself a gift, like diamonds!

Do you find it difficult to explain to your loved ones why breast cancer still isn’t over in your life? Comment here or on our Facebook page.

6 thoughts on “When normal isn’t normal and fine isn’t fine

  1. Some members in my family seem to feel that I talked about my breast cancer entirely too much and didn’t understand that it is therapeutic for me to talk about it. I can’t understand these feelings because they surely do not have a clue what it is like to go through this cancer journey. This was a very difficult situation for me and my husband and daughter to go through. My feelings were very hurt when my family expressed their feelings to me and things haven’t been quite right ever since. Although I am recovered from my breast cancer, I am still fearful of a recurrence and cannot forget what I have been through. This was a very dark time in my life. Hopefully, I pray that I never have a recurrence, but I have learned to appreciate every day for what it is.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post! I think all breast cancer treatments should be followed up with psychological counseling. There is no “normal” to go back to after breast cancer, we survivors have to find our own new normal and as katpet says, often it’s very hard for family and friends to understand that. What helped me the most was finding a women’s writing group and some online breast cancer survivor groups to share my feelings and realize that others understood what I was going through. Some of my new friends have become my best friends now.

  3. I don’t think anyone can truly understand what someone goes through physically or emotionally with cancer until they themselves go through it. It’s like losing a child. It’s a part of you that is lost. Never having gone through it, but having lost a mother-in-law to breast cancer that metastasized to her brain 10 years later, I would think that the phychological healing process would be so much harder than the physical. For me, it would be, “will it come back, when, and where?” I have a dear friend going through his second round of treatment for lymphoma. The first didn’t work and cancer came back in just a year. We’re all devastated with this and the mental aspect, including his is so down. Any words of wisdom or advice would be appreciated.

  4. Bonnie, I think that you have to keep up the positive thoughts and keep the spirits as high as possible. My attitude carried me so far through this tough time. I realize that I wasn’t walking around happy all the time and that I was scared, but I always tried to stay as up as I could. It went far in helping my husband and daughter too. I will be praying for your friend and you. Mentally this is tough so a support group might help some. The members of my church were very very supportive of me and that helped a lot. People always seemed to be around when I needed them.

  5. I think our loved ones want everything back to normal, partially, because they don’t want to lose us.

    I have found yoga to be really helpful in gaining my sense of self back again.

  6. I agree with your comment “Pink Kitchen!” I also feel our loved ones want everything back to normal, partially, because they don’t want to lose us!

    I found writing to be very helpful in gaining my sense of self back again! I’m still trying to get into yoga, and am a true beginner. Hopefully, when I get the hang of it, I can use it as a tool to help “center” my feelings/emotions.

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