On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host a free teleconference, “Beyond Treatment: Understanding Your New Normal,” featuring Susan Hong, MD, MPH, FACP. The staff at LBBC often hears from survivors that getting back to their regular lives can be challenging after treatment and the creation of a “new normal” is key to moving on. Join the LBBC Blog in welcoming back Randi Rentz, as she shares her “new normal.”
Normal. What is the “new normal” after breast cancer? Four years after completing my treatment, I am at it again, launching a web site that has taken many years to get underway, working full-time as a special education teacher in the area of Asperger’s, and consulting in the evenings. Again I’m risking financial security, working long hours, and insisting on having fun.
The point is, no matter what happens, I keep going on, making adjustments that fit my life. I like my life. While I was traveling in the scary tunnel of “Cancerville,” I did what most women do—I tried to maintain the normal routine of my life as much as possible. When a friend emailed me during my treatment, she wrote I was “crazy as ever,” which made me overjoyed.
Meanwhile, the world outside my “pink bubble” was going on as it always had. It was fast paced, taxing, demanding, and it was pretty draining. I have to admit, when I was finally able to rejoin it, it was pretty liberating.
I was thrilled to be able to go back to many of the same issues I’ve been dealing with for my whole life. I can say that I do have a greater perspective on what’s really important. I still sweat the small stuff. That’s just who I am. In my life, the small stuff adds up to the big picture that is my life and existence.
Although I may be in a new, slightly modified package, I am still whole, and unwilling to waste my time. This, too, is the same attitude I had before breast cancer. I was basically a happy positive person before breast cancer, and after it. Breast cancer just spelled out who and what I am.
Like most women I’ve spoken to, I can honestly say I eat better now (although I still eat desserts). I eat organic foods whenever possible, and I don’t eat fish full of chemicals or mercury. I never touch dairy products that were produced using hormones. And I try to avoid cosmetics that contain parabens, which mimic estrogen and just can’t be good for you.
Okay, I’ll admit I still use dye to color my hair and nail polish, both of which have evil ingredients in them, but I’m doing what I can. I take vitamins, limit my alcohol intake and exercise every day for an hour.
If you know me, that last part about regular exercise, is a total fabrication. But I do take yoga and/or a barre class when I can, and I try to do cardio two to three times a week.
Shocked? Yeah, me too.