A New Normal When Cancer Changes Everything


Will I ever get use to how cancer changes everything? I mean, all I want right now is to be normal. Normal, as before cancer, seems a world away.

July threw me for a loop with a three-week hospitalization that included an emergency medical airlift from my Santa Fe hospital bed to a Mayo Clinic hospital bed in Phoenix. Jeeze, talk about a reality check! When the smaller hospital’s surgeon and the primary care doctor determined that my condition was so tenuous that the faster I could get to Phoenix, the better, well, I didn’t know if I should take three deep breaths and go for the ride, or assure family and friends that most of my legal stuff is in good standing.

The odd thing about that moment was I felt at ease and as if I was embraced by angel wings and love. So I took three deep breaths and enjoyed looking at the clouds from their topside.

This brought about my gratitude for every single person who has so generously offered their positivity and prayer my way.

The next few days of medical consults and procedures should round up and halt the lingering issues that strapped me into the ambulance with wings. For that I’m grateful—and anxious because perhaps I’ll be a step closer to normal.

The signs are there. One medical report noted that my vital organs are “normal.” The word “necrosis” was often placed as a modifier before the words tumor or malignant mass.

For the record, normal at this time doesn’t include eating. An IV drips my feedbag into a main artery at night—causing an uncontrollable craving for junk food. Bring me a bag of potato chips and a beer, and we’ll be friends forever. French fries would be OK too. Pizza? If you want, I’ll vote for Trump if that pizza is slathered in cheese and all those greasy, fatty things absolutely not found in my IV fed feedbag of “pure nutrition.”

However, knowing what happens when real food begins its passage by my jejunum, I’ll wisely have to decline your junk food offerings. But, a girl can fantasize, right?

Chemo round three happens at the end of August and totally disrupts my opportunity to see a Sting performance in a Taos, New Mexico park two days later. This is when cancer really sucks big time and I cry for normalcy.

Ah, but life goes on. I must admit I’m feeling normal enough to assemble words together. I’m normal enough to get a few decent photos from my camera. And I’m normal enough to express a point of view when it must be expressed.

Yes, cancer changes everything. Things I did two years ago are not even possible now. Is this a worse-case scenario? Yes and no. Yes because I love to cook, hike, and explore the world around me. I can’t do that right now. No because I’ve an opportunity to learn new ways and new perspectives. There’s more time for thought, contemplation, reading and learning new things. I’m forced to be patient (something that’s never been my gift). My new normal is more quiet time. My new normal is trust in medicine and those who administer it. My new normal is learning more about the real me and all the possibilities within.

Let my new normal become a beacon of all those things I wish the world could become: Truth and Compassion in their most emboldened forms. What have I got to lose?

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