the “new normal”
Living with metastatic breast cancer is strange and hard and overwhelming.
Like families across the country we are getting back into the swing of school, homework and activities. The boys are nervous about their new school, excited to see old friends and enjoying soccer, chess club and playdates. I am working like crazy at Hope Scarves – planning our fundraiser on September 26th, creating a new ambassador program, public speaking, coordinating volunteers and scheduling requests for promotional appearances leading up to “Pinktober”… and that was just yesterday. Jay is working in Finland this week – a monthly trip he used to make regularly before stage 4 and my parents are in town to lend an extra hand. By all accounts our life looks normal and happy. And it is… but it’s not.
I have to sit on hold for an hour with the cable company, break up brotherly fights, fix flat tires and wash dishes – just like everyone else. But, in between the “normal” I research organizations looking for a cure to metastatic breast cancer, follow blogs about people living with this disease- most of which are having a much harder time than me or are further along in the journey and taking really awful drugs that are in my future and it scares me terribly. I read the memorials families post about women who have died from my same disease – gorgeous smiling moms hugging their children in happier times. I send cards to loved ones left behind and look back at emails from a friend who I met through METS and died last week. I look over her emails of encouragement to me and wonder at her hope and determination in the face of this disease… wondering with overwhelming fear what my future holds. Then, I help figure out the difference between a rhombus and a parallelogram, I clean up puppy puddles and look for lost soccer shin guards. It’s really strange… living like this. But, I am living!
I attended parent night at school last night and signed up for classroom parties in the coming year – I sat there staring at the dancing heart on the Valentines party sign up… just wondering what our life would be like on Valentines Day. Living with so much unknown and fear and wishing to just be a normal, laughing parent like everyone else in the room. I signed up to bring a snack…
I yearn for happier times over the past 6 years. For days when I was just creating Hope Scarves, running 6 mile trail runs, volunteering in our safe happy preschool, happily planning adventures together with my boys, laughing with friends, drinking good wine and just loving life. I miss the chubby little hands of our sons in mine and their needing me to cut up their food or kiss boo-boos. I miss stressing over lost sunglasses, tennis matches and mismatched socks. I miss spending hours running around town doing errands for meaningless things that at the time seemed very important… I miss going about my day without fear and sadness.
So, they call this the “new normal” and I am embracing it. I can’t change that I have stage 4 cancer. But, I can control the way I deal with it. I am learning to live in this crazy, scary new reality. Laughing and chit-chatting at parent teacher night one minute, crying in the hallway the next. It isn’t normal, but it’s our life now.
I have an appointment with my oncologist this week and my monthly injection. Then, he will schedule my PET scan for late September. In the meantime I will continue to figure out how to balance this crazy reality we are living in.
Laughing/crying… celebrating/mourning. And, always hoping. ALWAYS Hoping!