Picking Up the Pieces

Before cancer, I felt that I was moving in the right direction in my life. I had some savings, I was beginning to develop a good skill set at work, and I was engaged. Now that I'm post treatment, I feel like I'm broken down, tapped out physically and emotionally. I'm recovering from a massive physical and emotional hit (you can read about it in a different post). But most of all I feel like I'm trying to pick up the pieces of my life and reassemble them. The only problem is they don't fit right anymore. I guess I'm struggling with the "what next?" My family wants me to have a plan. But I don't want to plan in too much detail right now and be disappointed if and when it doesn't work out. I just want to focus on the recovering aspect and wait to do the planning until I feel at least a bit better. I had a bunker mind set when I was in treatment in that if I focused on just getting through and hunkered down I would make it. Now I don't want to come out of my bunker because I feel safe there. So where do I go from here? Beats me, but it seems like I can chose the road to shitsburg or the road to crapville. And moreover, how do I get the pieces of my life back into some sort of order? Screw the "new normal" talk. I just want to have 5 minutes where something isn't in transition or flux or up in the air. I just want to feel settled. I guess I'll start there.


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  • Yep, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm graduating end of this week and I have no job as of yet... but the thing is I can't just blame it on the economy because I haven't really tried that hard to find a job. I've been doing pretty well just thinking about the moment at hand and not the future at all (although I'm all anxious this week because I was supposed to get the pathology results on a couple more spots removed last week but the doctors still don't have it back). Guess sometime though I'll have to move on! I'm going to take this summer to get my head together some more hopefully :)
  • seems to me where you go from here depends on the kind of person you are. You sound like the sort of person who REALLY needs a plan. My wife is like that. I drive her crazy sometimes because I'm a "roll with the punches" kinda guy. I'm very fluid and tend to make major life changes quickly and easily. When I was applying to graduate school, I had feelers out many places and I got a callback on one in particular in rural East Texas (not typically the sort of place most people CHOOSE to go) that turned out to be a bona fide offer with funding. Not being one to turn down a golden opportunity, I was packed up and starting classes less than a month later while my wife worked on finding a job. I lived in a hovel for three months until we got our "real" place, but it worked.

    Now that even more uncertainty has been introduced after my diagnosis and treatment, it's not really much of a challenge for me to accept it for what it is and still get what I want out of life. It's just how I'm programmed, I guess. If anything, I am more open to a wider variety of employment outcomes than I was previously.

    I realize I didn't really give you any specific suggestions for how to deal with it...mostly because I think you need to find what works for you in your own way. Sometimes the phrase "new normal" bugs me, too. It is what it is and I have to figure out how to work with what I've got.
  • MoniqueMonique Community Member
    I am right there with you! I have my final cycle of chemo Monday, and then I am done with my treatments. I should be happy but I am scared of what is to come, and know what you mean about being in the safe bunker. I was also at a good place in my life, just returned to work from having my second baby, happy in my marriage and career and shopping for our next house. Then bam, you have cancer!! Not in the plans. I feel like I was a trooper through a mastectomy, a revision of that, then chemo. I maintained my sense of humor, and still tried to live life almost like it was before. Lately however I have become an emotional wreck. I fear relapse, and not seeing my girls grow up. I have been lashing out at my husband and have become an angry bitter individual. I try to stay positive then I see friends and family continue on with their lives and I feel the anger and sadness take over. This all may be fear of not knowing what the future holds as I come to the end of my treatment. I think being treated has become my security blanket, and it is about to be taken away.

    I don't have much for advice, but read this and couldn't help writing to let you know you are not alone in the struggle of the "what next". As for the new normal, I am struggling to find a way to start to feel anything that resembles a normal life. I feel in limbo as well, like I am waiting for something, not sure what it is before I can continue on. I decided to not return to work until after July to give myself time to heal, which I am now realizing is more an emotional thing rather than a physical.

    Carey- I wish you luck with your healing as well, and you are able to find a way to start putting the pieces back together.
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    Michelle-don't be too concerned about graduating without a job. I spent the summer after I graduated working in a restaurant and drinking beer at the beach. It was the perfect way to end college...relaxed. I also kept applying and by August I had a job with a September start date. I hope you path report comes back soon and it's clean.

    Monique-I agree that healing is a lot more emotional than people realize. I just wish I had been aware of that months ago. It's one of those cancer secrets that no one tells you when you're moving from active treatment to recovery. Thanks social workers (sarcasm).
  • Yeah I'm not too worried about the job, but my parents are! Also just heard from the doctor this morning finally and both spots removed were severely atypical (again) but not melanoma :) Unfortunately I'll have to get more skin excised around both :( So far after my melanoma I've scored 3/3 for spots removed being severely atypical and something that would eventually develop into melanoma- the one on my arm this time didn't concern my dermatologist at all but I didn't like it and as it turned out good thing I got it off. Seems to me though odds are eventually something is going to slip by and I'll have another melanoma... hope that's far in the future at least!
  • DMMDMM Community Member
    Carey;3211 said:
    Screw the "new normal" talk.
    I'm with you on that one! "The new normal" is one phrase that I have come to truly despise this second go around the cancer block.
  • "new Normal" yeah I can agree that one blows!!! It's more like the new bullshit and what comes next? No one knows! We had plans too that I'm reminded mostly every single day that they won't, can't, aren't going to happen. Even with a positive attitude!!! We are blissfully in deep denial still 9 months from DX. WE work on accepting every day. It's extremely difficult but I have to say somedays are easier. I've tried hard to find happiness and peace in the moment. Not to worry too much about next week. Which is complete opposite of who I was. Ben just wants to be happy and find peace in what's has happened to us. It is most difficult thinking about him not being here for our daughter. Which we feel the affects NOW as opposed to if/when he passes away. He's here but not 100% ya know. So it's almost like training for how life will be. Fortunate that he's here and his health is stable as of now. Point is...sorry rambling...only you know what you enjoy. Try hard to not dwell on the past...life is about changing period...it'd be so boring without it eh? :) When you find your thoughts taking you to all the crap that isn't or won't or can'ts...just try real hard to move on in your mind! And remind yourself of what you do have even if it's something small. You still have a life the now what is very hard but it's impossible. It may be something you've never done or thought you would like or could be something you always had but forgot about. Find peace in the small things and moments. That's what helps us. I find us doing things we would have NEVER done before simple things but nonetheless the fact that we get up and do anything everyday I think is a good thing and moving in the right way. :) We are all here and for whatever reason this is our life now with CANCER and no one disagrees with the fact that it sucks so big! But the now what is so important. I don't think you have to have a plan to move on...baby steps , day by day, that is real. Good luck!!!
  • It never ceases to amaze me when people try to push this "return to normal" idea. I don't know if there is a normal to return to . After my diagnosis, surgery, and the aftermath, I can't return to how I was before all that. So, we try for this "new normal" and I don't have a clue what that is. I prefer to look at life with a take it as it comes approach. Life is way too short to spend it doing what everyone thinks you should do.
  • 1goodbean1goodbean Community Member
    "Recently a nine-year-old boy was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. The doctor explained the diagnosis and the treatment, which included months of chemotherapy and major surgery. He said it would be a very difficult time for the boy and his family but then added, 'People ask me, "Will I be the same after this is over?" I tell them, ‘No, you won’t be the same. You will be so much stronger. You will be awesome!'"

    I heard this recently and it fits in with me well. I've been out of surgery for 2 1/2 months, and have only been declared cancer free for two weeks, so I'm still new to all of this readjusting stuff too. During the time I was sick and in treatment, I hated just about everything about life because everything was so uncertain and I couldn't move forward or do anything. I couldn't even be an independent person anymore. Now that I am feeling better than I have in ages, I'm just focusing on me. I'm not jumping into getting a job or anything like that. I'm taking my life back, but just doing it little by little. One thing I've found that has been making me feel better is finding out more about me. I'm discovering more talents I have (cooking/baking) and experiencing new things, making new hobbies. I'm taking the time to reinvent myself. I'm not the same person I was before, I'm a more awesome person. I'm getting there everyday as I become more healthy, eating right and exercising. I'm not settled at all. I have no money. No job and am living off of the graces of others. But as for who I am, of course I'm not settled! And I'm enjoying every friggin' minute of it! :)