If I had to sum up my cancer treatment in three words, I would say I got spanked. I was a pretty healthy female before I got cancer…meaning — no diabetes, no high blood pressure, and my weight was normal for my height which is six feet. I opted to get the most aggressive chemo and radiation because I knew there wasn’t time to play around. The cancer had already migrated to the tip of my liver and who knows where more cells planned to go. I didn’t want to take any chances and I had a great team of doctors. I also had support at home. My husband and son made sure all my needs were taken care of and drove me to all my appointments. (If you or someone you know is going through cancer treatments and doesn’t have at home help or transportation to appointments, click on the resource link above. It contains information where to find help)
I am cancer free since June 2011 but I am left with lingering effects from the chemo. Many patients complain about tingling and numbness in their fingertips and feet, but it usually goes away after treatment. Mine is better, I used to be in a wheelchair but now I use a walker when I am in public by myself. My balance is off and my left foot sometimes stops working and I trip. If I am tired I sort of look drunk, which I play up if someone looks at me funny. I keep telling myself to keep an empty beer can in my backpack to really throw them off!
There are some things I can’t do at least right now…who knows what the future will bring? So for now my hubby has to take our big dog for walks and my Chihuahua goes with me. He isn’t afraid of the walker and doesn’t pull me around like the bigger dog. I need help going up and down curbs and steps. I use a handicapped toilet seat because my legs aren’t strong enough to get up without holding on to something and I can easily fall. I can’t carry babies around because I lose my balance but who cares? I’m not around any babies anyway. I need help carrying groceries. I need help getting to the floor to do yoga stretches. If I am alone, I use the coffee table for support.
Buddhism teaches me that I am constantly changing. I am not the same person I was this morning. My cells have died and new ones were born. So I walk a bit differently than I did before. Who cares? I am still the same person and I am not the same.
This is my new normal life and I am grateful everyday. I meet people all the time who have new normal lives as well and they inspire me. Isn’t that part of what life is about?