Treatment and Beyond!


Refined – not defined!

Once over the shock of the diagnosis, you may power through your treatment with the goal of getting your life back to normal as soon as possible. But watch out – you might be in for another shock! You may discover that your diagnosis was a one-way ticket to a new destination, your new normal. Exploring unfamiliar territory can be unsettling, but also exciting, and along the way you may find yourself traveling down paths you never considered before.

Many things can cause the loss of your old normal. The breast cancer journey can be filled with unexpected gifts (with a no return or exchange policy) and valuable life lessons, but often is also accompanied by profound physical and emotional changes. The end of treatment, though a huge relief, may create fear when the doctors release you and set you adrift to navigate the post-treatment waters without their constant care (and just when you were getting used to wearing that life preserver!). Dealing with body image issues, especially if your treatment included surgery, is challenging. Also, it is totally normal to wonder if every little ache or pain is a signal that your breast cancer has returned. This “fear of recurrence” is real and common, and each of us has had to learn how to keep it at bay as best as we can. And for those who have metastatic breast cancer, your new normal includes knowing that the future also holds management of a chronic disease.

Just remember, as always, that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There continue to be many resources out there to guide you as you explore this new territory. Reach out to your “sisters,” who are here to hold your hand. Counseling is a very helpful tool for many, as is any type of therapeutic activity that brings peace to your soul and energizes your spirit, such as meditation, yoga, music, praying, art, or exercise (kickboxing anyone?). And, for some women, their new normal comes from regaining as much of their “old normal” as possible.

The path is different for each of us. Please be patient with yourself as you establish your post-diagnosis identity and learn how your journey with breast cancer has affected the way you will live the rest of your life. Hopefully, you will find yourself able to relate to Ms. February 2009, when she remarked, “Breast cancer has refined me, but not totally changed me, with the end result being a better version of myself.”


If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. — Unknown


The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful and rare of all. — Mulan