The New Normal: A Life-After-Cancer Series
If I asked my 21-year-old self to predict what life would be like as an “adult”, I think most of us would have said something to the likes of; having a great job that was rewarding and paid well, a nice home, a loving soul mate, a dog or cat, and if lucky a child or two. Wow where did the last 20+ years go and where are my kids? (LOL). What I expected for a “normal life” did not pan out exactly as I would have imagined but in many ways, it may have turned out better. In retrospect, I would have added health and safety at the top of any forecasting life plan. That would give most of us a fighting chance to traverse all of the curveballs that life throws at you.
We don’t often think about the things in life that could happen, or at least don’t want to happen; unemployment, debt, divorce, infertility, and some unimaginable outcomes including death. None of these obstacles are included in the rosy pictures we created when we were younger and full of optimism although the examples are all around. They are not things we want to imagine, why would we? And so, we continue through life working towards this “normal” that we slowly build upon and become comfortable in. We work out the kinks over the years trying to optimize our best life associating it as our normal. That is, until one day you are faced with one of the obstacles you didn’t account for.
In our case, cancer.
What used to be our normal becomes an upside-down universe that may take years to adjust to, understand, and figure out. From the physical, to the spiritual, to the mental, not one aspect of our life is untouched. For some of us more than others. With it hopefully comes a better understanding of who we are, what we are capable of, what we’re willing to let go, forgive, and forget. It’s not easy but it’s doable and well… we have no choice!
This is the reason behind The New Normal series.
Why this and why now? It was not unlike deciding to create and launch IHadCancer several years ago, my gut says, there are many of us out there who are not being understood. Going day-to-day expected to be the person we were pre-cancer. Like IHadCancer which helps alleviate pain, confusion, and feeling alone, The New Normal is taking this to the next level.
Our goal has always been to put our community above any one person, including me. A community after all is a group of people with a shared commonality, right? At the root of a community are connections. A way one feels connected is by sharing stories, which many of you have selflessly been doing for the past few years. Stories that bring hope, comfort and understanding to others as well as ourselves. This series provides yet another way to share these stories through candid and unfiltered conversations. We’ll discuss topics not everyone, including ourselves, have openly shared.
Over the past year AnnMarie, a cancer survivor, mother of four boys and founder of Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer and I, founder of IHadCancer and Squeaky, a digital communications agency in NYC, amidst laughs, tears, and some cursing (mostly AnnMarie), realized that the idea of sharing these raw conversations with a broader group could be helpful. The challenges that we all face during COVID-19 are eerily similar to some of the challenges anyone affected by cancer has faced. Wearing a mask due to a compromised immune system, staying away from family and friends for similar reasons, and the fear of the unknown has been a part of the cancer community from the beginning. Cancer changes the goalposts during the game and we have to keep adjusting to meet those challenges. It’s best described as living in The New Normal.
We are two friends talking about different subjects that affect us at our most vulnerable selves and we invite you, our community, to participate. We trust this series along with IHadCancer will help people learn and live their new normal to the fullest as best one can.
The pilot series will touch on aspects of life as we adjust to a new normal. A life post a cancer diagnosis but one in which it has left its footprint.
On The New Normal we’ll touch upon:
- Living through a pandemic as cancer survivors who once again must battle the unknown
- Mental health
- Losing friends/partners who don’t understand
- The financial impact of cancer during treatment, recovery, and the rest of our life
- The impact of the people we’ve lost and our own mortality
- Intimacy, sexuality, and the ways our body changes
- The challenges of disclosing our cancer or not, and the implications
- Believing in a higher being, your support system, and most importantly yourself
Please join us and thank you for continuing to help change the lives of a community who depend on our shared support.
Missing a topic you’re interested in? Let us know in the comments.
Mailet Lopez is a breast cancer survivor and the founder of IHadCancer.com! Read her full story and learn more about the treatments she underwent by connecting with her.