My World is Different

View from my hotel in New York City.

I feel like my vain attempt at normalcy has left me a bit surprised that life may not be what I had hoped it to be. I want normal, I crave normal, but life after cancer treatment is not normal.

I think it may be that it is an unusual kind of lonely in the normal world, you feel alien, not quite like other people. It could be because you spend a long time ignoring that people notice you in public without eyebrows, hair, and wearing a hat. I think you spend so much time trying to blend in that when you don’t need to you, don’t know how to shine again. My social skills don’t seem normal. I am a bit more skittish, I care more if people like me. I worry that I am doing something wrong and I am much more self conscious than I have ever been. I have lost a certain level of my confidence.

I find myself talking about having had breast cancer to strangers. I don’t know why, I look normal enough these days that no one would know any better.

I lack some of the patience I used to have. I am quick to anger (although the fact that they have been messing with my hormones regularly with treatment does not help my level of emotional control). I still can find myself struggling to concentrate on occasion. I was speaking with my friend Michelle about the fact that I haven’t been able to read an actual book since I was diagnosed. My brain won’t let me focus on it. Luckily my work is a bit fast paced and constantly changing so it hasn’t hurt me there.

My first flight post-cancer treatment was a new reality. First off, I have metal in my boobs, we were wondering if my breast expanders would make it through airport security (they did), but I was a little worried at the embarrassment that would be caused if the breast expanders did set off the alarm. Luckily they did not set it off… but I was a bit tense walking through that machine. (Update: I did have issues with security on my way home)

My hotel bed and lymphedema sleeve.

I now have to wear a lymphedema sleeve, which is anything but attractive, and on a long flight you aren’t wearing enough to cover it up because it is too hot to wear long sleeves. Throw on top of that, it is breast cancer awareness month. The flight staff were going up and down the aisle in their pink garb with their bags out to collect donations for breast cancer (so you could get some pink lemonade or a pink martini) and I look at them with my sleeve on wondering if they know why women wear those on flights?

I know that completing cancer treatment requires emotional recovery along with the physical recovery, but I am just not patient and want my world to be what it used to be. Hopefully I will grow accustomed to the “new normal” soon..

Author: Mandi

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