When I left the hospital after my appendectomy, I began my life as a cancer patient. I wasn’t ready yet to use the term survivor, though I’d been told everyone alive with a cancer diagnosis was now termed a survivor. To me, a survivor was someone who was still alive 5 years later, or who had at least completed treatment. I had a long way to go.
I remember several things about my transition to life as a cancer patient. I remember waking up mornings and for an instant my morning would be normal. Then, once I was more fully awake, I remembered that my world had changed, it wasn’t a normal morning. “Normal” was gone, I had cancer.
I remember feeling so out of place in an oncology office at first, I felt I didn’t belong there. I looked around the oncology office waiting room and saw people who had lost their hair, who were very thin, who looked ill. Was I one of them? I felt a mistake must have been made. I felt great, I felt healthy. I wanted to leave and go back to my normal life. But normal was gone.
I remember hardest part; seeing the pain my diagnosis caused my husband, my kids, my parents, my best friend, my sisters, my in-laws. And I couldn’t make it better, I couldn’t change it. My best friend summed it up best. She called me one day and said she just wanted to hear the dishwasher run. She said she wanted our normal back. She wanted our lives to be the way they were before I had a cancer diagnosis. She said she had been home contemplating my diagnosis and had heard the dishwasher run, and for a minute she felt everything was normal again, everything was the way it was supposed to be. She’d stood and just listened to the dishwasher and remembered normal.
Normal. I mourned the loss of the normal life I had taken for granted. Life had changed so rapidly and so unexpectedly. Would life ever be normal again?