I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear
And I’ll be taken over by the fear
-Lily Allen, “The Fear”
Today I had a followup appointment with my surgeon. The meeting went well–he said everything was healing up nicely and he went over my pathology report again, reiterating what great news it contained. All in all, pretty darn good.
So, why did I spend half the drive home crying?
I should be really happy right now. Yes, I’m still in some pretty wicked pain, and my chest is a hot mess, but that will all eventually change. I’m “cancer-free;” I should be ecstatic, right? I certainly shouldn’t be boo-hooing in the car.
And yet, here I am. My emotions are all over the place. I don’t know how I’m supposed to go from being the cancer patient back to a regular person. I’m too afraid of recurrence to let my guard down. And every time I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror, I’m taken aback–the mind’s eye vision of myself doesn’t fit how I actually look with my barely-there growing-in hair, pale skin and flat chest.
And even nuttier, I’m actually kind of sad that my time with my doctors is starting to wind down. I’ve grown kind of attached to these people, having seen them so much the past few months. Not to mention the fact that they literally saved my life.
I’ve heard people say that the treatment of cancer is hard, but figuring out life after treatment can be just as difficult. I always used to think that sounded kind of weird, but now I’m starting to understand what they were saying.
I don’t know how to proceed. I’m not sure how to process all of this. I don’t know how to be me anymore.
There’s a flyer in my oncologist’s office called “Finding Your New Normal.” I guess that’s what I have to do now. I won’t ever be able to go back to the old me.