Discovering my 'new normal' after breast cancer diagnosis at 34.

29 January 2012

The anniversaries begin

As with many people living with cancer or who currently have no evidence of disease (NED), the anniversaries are imprinted on us: dates, months, years. Usually they are marked by a check-up around the date that something significant happened. I know exactly what I was doing on Friday, 30 Jan 2009.

That was the day I heard from my GP:

Well, you have a little cancer.

Life-changing words to say the least. And I don't know if I would call the 'moderately differentiated infiltrating ductal carcinoma and intermediate grade ductal carcinoma in-situ' "little": it measured around 20mm.

It's now 3 years later and although the shock of that news - and subsequent assaults on my body in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation - is dwindling, I find that the closer I get to my 5-year-post-intensive-treatment mark, the more the fear that it will return creeps up on me.

It's a bittersweet anniversary: I can count my blessings every day that I am alive. I know not to "sweat the small stuff" and I know to "stop and smell the roses". But I still struggle with fatigue, memory and word loss, having zero oestrogen, and the side-effects of my regular ongoing treatment. It's also been a financial set-back and has put a (possibly indefinite) hold on any family plans we might have had. I worry that I will get sick again, just when things are looking good in terms of work, fitness, love, and life in general. I get frustrated with this New Normal and sometimes just want my Old Life back.

Having said that, without this roller-coaster of an event, I wouldn't have got to know many of the wonderful people I have since met both online and in real life, nor would I be the proud businesswoman running not one but three ventures: Hatiheri, YES! IELTS and my English language tutoring service.

Tomorrow will be the first of many anniversaries for the year.

I'm hoping there will continue to be many more.