When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April and once I heard exactly what was going to happen to my body because of that diagnosis the phrase I kept hearing in response to all of my questions was, "You'll get accustomed to this... it will be your 'new normal.'" It was all I could do to not punch the people that said that to me. I didn't want a new normal I wanted my "old, good life" I didn't want to change and accept anything.
As anyone who's been diagnosed with cancer can tell you, there are so many emotions that run through your mind and let me tell you, you go through the stages of grief:
- Denial and isolation. Oh, yes I was in denial and convinced that all of the doctors and their tests were wrong, that my results were mixed up with someone else. As for isolation, I just needed to be alone, I didn't want to tell anyone what was happening because "This can't be happening to me."
- Anger. I was pissed... still am. 'Nough said.
- Bargaining. I am trying to believe in God, my faith -- if I even have any or even know what that is -- has been and still is being sorely tested.
- Depression. I have kept the Kleenex company in business with my crying.
- Acceptance. I accepted that I needed to have life and body-altering surgery and I accepted that I need follow up treatment. Have I accepted everything enough to throw up my hands and paste on a grin and say "life goes on"? Well, I haven't given up. I guess that's a plus, right? Have I happily accepted what's happened? No. Will I ever? No. Do I have a choice? No.
Believe me, I go through these stages on a semi regular basis and I got to thinking about this whole topic yesterday as I lie on the radiation table (I obviously never asked the medical term for it) and realized... I've had five treatments, only 23 left. ONLY 23? It was like, damn I have accepted that 28 days of radiation is my "new normal" at least until October 23 when my treatments are complete. Is acceptance a good thing or a sign of giving up and giving in? Who knows. All I know is need to get through this -- it's dominated my life since April 10. I want to see light at the end of the tunnel and who knows, maybe October 23 will be that light.