What is the New Normal after Breast Cancer Treatment?

Today, an old friend called to check on me.  She asked how I was.  I explained the severe Radiation burns, peeling skin, open sores, heart issues, but overall, I am getting better.  Then she said, “Sounds like you are getting back to normal.”    Immediately, out of my mouth came this:

“There is no normal, there is no going back, I am not the same person I was, and I have no idea who I am.”    I apologized for kind of jumping on her, but it is obviously a sensitive area to me.    And it is a good question to ponder.  If I could go back, would I go back?  The answer is no.  The last 11 months have been one huge learning experience.  I told someone I learned more in the last 11 months than I did in the previous 55 years leading up to Breast Cancer.  It isn’t the learning about the Breast Cancer that is the learning part, although that certainly contributes.  It is the learning about life, relationships, God, health, and what is important.

Breast Cancer has changed the way I think about almost everything–religion, politics, education, health, food, diet, friends, enemies, and the list goes on…    So based upon that alone, it is impossible to go back.  Oh sure, absolutely I am still Denise.  But in some ways even with a broken but healing body, I am a new Denise.   It is evident in my cells…old cells have died, new cells in their place.   Old hair is gone, new hair in its place.

I’ve started to go “topless” which in the breast cancer community means going without my wig.  A year ago I would have never considered going anywhere with the little bit of hair I now have on my head.  Now it is a cause for celebration.   I had to go to a social event on Saturday where I always used to worry about what I looked like to others.  This year, it didn’t matter to me in the least.  Of course, I wanted to look attractive and presentable, but no longer did my thoughts go to, “how do I look?”   I know I look the best I can today.  And that is all I have.

I used to worry about what people think of me.  That never even crosses my mind now.  It really makes no difference what people think of me.  I know who I am, and that is what matters.  Let anyone think what they want to think.  It is their brain.  And I freed my own brain from that limited thinking.

And so it all begins.  Deciphering who I am.  It is a great thing!  I am celebrating this time because it is cause for celebration.  A birth is taking place.



  1. Dearest Denise ~

    WOW!!! Is all that I can say!! This is SO profound! I can’t thank you enough for sharing your life with us – you have touched me so deeply with your gift of words and how to use them. Thank you doesn’t say enough for all that you have done. My life is better because you’re in it – love you,


  2. It is pretty amazing how much this breast cancer stuff really changes you. It has definitely made me stronger. Puts a different spin on everything!

  3. Last month was my 2 year anniversary of having the mastectomy and my reconstruction. There is no way that I am the same person I was the day before that surgery. The way I think, what I find worth giving my attention to and what I choose to find unworthy of my energy, and even my cognitive skills and abilities are different. Trying to keep relying on how I “used” to be able to deal with life, is so much different thant how I can today. This is a huge learning curve, but each day is a blessing and we have to make the most of it! Thanks for putting this out there.

    • Cathy, thank you for your wisdom about this topic. I appreciate it very much.
      The lessons you have learned are helpful to me and to others. I am just beginning
      to understand what I want to give my energy to and where I don’t want to expend it.
      Thank you so much for this comment! It is extremely helpful and a blessing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s