Friday, August 1, 2008

What is the new normal?

Yesterday I said goodbye to radiation and Unit #1. I told them that I hope to see them again, just not for treatment. They said that even though my treatment is done, to continue to rest and take care of the treated area because my symptoms should peak in about a week. What that means is that my cottage vacation includes no swimming or sitting out in the sun. Oh well, at least I'm done!

The second injection to shut down my ovaries last week went much better than the first. I have had no major reactions to it, only a big increase in hot flashes. Last night I woke up about 10 times because of it, so I will talk to my oncologist about anything to help that out. The changes that I can pinpoint from my first injection include some time off of work to rest my body and starting acupunture again. Although resting is a hard prescription for me to follow, I have seen the results of it directly in the past couple of weeks.

This afternoon I complete my 18th and last treatment of Herceptin. My body has had mixed reactions to this drug, so I am still a bit nervous about it, but will be very greatful to be done with this one (as will my veins). The pre-drugs they give me for this make me very drowsy for the better part of 24 hours afterwards, so I plan to pack up this morning and then just sleep any effects off.

It will take me a while to adjust my mindset to a maintenance mode for my cancer treatment. The good side of this is much more time for my body to heal, less visits to the cancer center and therefore more time for everything else in my life. The bad side of this might be that the anxiety of another recurrence will hit me harder than ever.

It is fairly normal for cancer survivors to be hit fairly hard mentally once they're out of the major treatments. While they are going through treatments, their mind is focused on survival and the next appointment, but afterwards it can all come crashing down. My knowing this in advance will definitely help me deal with it if it happens.

Tomorrow we leave for our vacation at my parents place and then we return to figure out what our new normal life will look like. I look at it like an exciting new opportunity to focus on the things in life that matter to me - my family, my job and my volunteer work, which all give me the opportunity to positively touch people's lives.

Use this chance to live through my learning and for the next few weeks take some time to figure out what is important to you and whether you are spending enough time on it. The fall is a great time for a fresh start!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tasha,
    Congratulations on finishing your radiation treatments. By now you will be on vacation with your parents at Regina Beach. Though you cannot go out in the summer sun or swim in the refreshing lake waters, we hope you are getting lots of TLC, rest and relaxation.

    It's good to read that you are actually able to feel the benefits of the rest your doctor has prescribed for you. Most of us would have no difficulty at all in taking it easy; (and we would most happily do so on doctor's orders!) You must be one of those people who needs to be busy and active in order to feel productive and energized.

    We hope your final herceptin treatment and its after-effects were not too difficult for you. David and I both remarked on the fact that you did all your vacation packing ahead of time so that you could deal appropriately with anticipated effects of the drug regime and treatment procedure. Talk about planning ahead! Organization has to be one of your many amazing assets.

    We were especially interested in your observations about moving into "maintenance mode" after treatment ends. What you say makes a lot of sense to us. After short-term goals have been accomplished, all that follows in life is open-ended.

    We know from experience that anxiety builds even in minor achievements like weight loss, skill development or job promotion. We can only imagine how scary things must be when the situation you face is a life-threatening one. The title of your posting says it all, "What is the new normal?" We live with the tension of not ever knowing for sure.

    As ever, you are quick to see this period of adjustment as "an exciting new opportunity" to touch the lives of others in positive ways. In doing so, you remind us to set priorities and to use our time well, too. It is most generous of you to let us "live through your learning". We often find ourselves doing just that, Tasha, in large and small ways.

    We hope you will continue to enjoy summer's stillness as you anticipate fall's fresh start.

    Sincere thanks and well-wishes,
    Louise and David