We Are At The Beginning Of Change…
Sunday June 16th 2019


Life Redefined: When will I get back to normal?

Post Published: 08 March 2011
Category: Column, Life Redefined, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults Column
This post currently has 12 responses. Leave a comment

I talk to a lot of survivors who ask me, “When will I get back to normal?” or, “When will I be my old self again?” I get it. I’ve asked those same questions many times before. Right after I was diagnosed with cancer, I immediately started working toward getting back to “normal.” Eventually, I realized that goal wasn’t achievable. I couldn’t get back to my old self because cancer has really changed me. And you know what? That’s okay.

Cancer is too big of a deal to go through it and NOT be changed. Yes, it changes us physically, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. It changes us mentally, spiritually, socially, emotionally…you name it, cancer affects it.

Here’s the thing…cancer can bring about good change. Please do not confuse that to think I’m suggesting cancer is good, because I absolutely do not believe that is true. However, I do think some of the changes that result from cancer are good.

Last night I spent some time reflecting about how cancer has changed me and what I have learned. I made a long list of things and I want to share a few with you:

1. Life is a precious gift.

2. Putting business on hold to spend time with loved ones is a wise decision.

3. People are more valuable than “things” and “stuff.”

4. The world does not revolve around me. Not even some of the time.

5. I don’t ever have to quit learning. There are people all around me who have valuable lessons to teach me if I’ll just LISTEN.

6. I don’t have to climb Mt. Everest every day. Some days, just getting out of bed is a victory.

7. I have a better sense of what is important and what is worth my time.

8. I need to tell people I love them. People need to hear it and I need to say it. Then, I need to act. My words don’t show my love for others; my actions behind my words are what show my love.

9. Fire is purifying. Living with cancer has made me a better person. I’m better equipped to help others going through similar trials because of what I’ve gone through the past two and a half years.

10. I can always live my life with a purpose.

Cancer survivor and author Lynn Eib says, “I am a better person for having suffered. I have more compassion, more empathy, more patience, and more mercy.” After taking some time for reflection, I realize the same is true in my life. I am a better person for having suffered.

So the answer to the question, “when will I be back to my old self?” is never. I know that can be hard to accept, but I also know it’s not a bad thing. I encourage you to take time to think about the good things cancer has brought into your life. How have you changed for the better? What have you learned? Write it down; make a list.  I hope you’ll share your cancer lessons with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of love,


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12 Responses to “Life Redefined: When will I get back to normal?”

  1. Linny says:

    well I would like to add that many things in life lead you on journeys that will forever make you different. Life is not like cutting bangs and waiting for them to grow out.
    Besides what is “normal”/?
    Do we really have a measure?
    A lot more of you are discoverying your health issues earlier than we ever did before. For many we lived the young years wondering why we were different.
    Without the knowledge of what we now know.
    Be aware of all the advances science has made, and will continue to explore.
    Be open to the idea of cures.
    But we will not be the same…
    We might be better!
    I know for myself I feel better when I know whats wrong with me.
    All those painful years could have been better if someone had put a “name” to what was happening to me.
    You now can connect with others, share, learn and care about each other….holding hands and reminding each other that you are not a lone.
    We now live in a world that shut inside we can still connect via internet. Be ever so grateful.
    Everyone in life will face
    This is what we are, what we own anyway.
    But it doesn’t have to define us.
    You have, each of you, a story to share. A road to travel, a journey to grow.
    Life is change~ the only thing we can be sure of is to enjoy each day as if it were the last.
    Try to be upbeat anyway, it sends good vibs thruout your being.
    Don’t give in to the pity parties that come and go. Give yourself a little time now and then to cry or whatever, then live your life.
    Meanings will be deeper and richer.
    You will take less for granted.
    You will care more deeply for yourselve and others.
    You will not understand why others don’t care the way you do…..but then you will realize its because they haven’t needed to…….yet.
    I hope I have comforted someone, someone like me. I also needed to realize all I’ve said here, I didn’t “get it” for a long long time. In fact I didn’t know what was happening for an even longer time~!
    Learn all you can and be your own advocate.
    Then share these ideas. This is how we can help one another.
    If you are young, be glad you still have parents to help you get well.
    If you do not yet have a family of your own you can focus on yourself.
    Thank you for reading and love yourself more, you are worth it! Linny

    • Thank you, Linny, for sharing your thoughts and lessons learned. We do have so many resources at our finger tips that allow us outlets for living and coping with disease. For that, I’m grateful.

      You’re right–life is full of change. Dealing with that change is not always an easy thing though, is it?!


  2. Melissa Travis says:

    Powerful words. Powerful thoughts. On any given day I would agree with you whole heartedly. Then next day I would howl in rage. And on the third day I would agree with you again.

    Most days I AGREE. We’ve LEARNED. We are wiser now. We get it more. But somedays, I would give anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to be healthy and blind and sheepled again… to walk thru life with ever 2 year pap and not know about health… only because some days I’m TIRED of wisdom. But you know – most days I’m grateful for what we’ve learned.

    And I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the compassion I’ve come into contact with.

    THIS is a beautiful amazing column. And you express it so well. Thank you!!!

    • Me, too, Melissa. I have days where I DO NOT CARE about what I’ve learned in the past two and a half years, days where I would trade the wisdom for health in a skinny minute. I also have days (very very few days) at the other extreme, where I say I wouldn’t give back cancer if I could because of what I’ve gained and learned as a result. *GASP* Most days, I’m in the middle. I’m so very thankful for what I’ve learned and who I’ve met as a result of having cancer. But I don’t like living with cancer.

  3. Linny says:

    I haven’t found much about life that’s been easy. Ok I’ve had good things come my way, but most of life is hard…don’t you think?
    There is nothing fair about getting and being sick.
    No one would argue that!
    I have just tried not to think about “it” all the time.
    We can choose the way we want to cope to some degree anyway…..
    I just want to be as happy as I can manage, and now most days I am.

    • I agree, Linny. Life is hard. I think it’s harder when the change is forced upon us, though, rather than welcomed. What I mean is, sometimes I have to make really hard decisions that will definitely bring change, but it’s all good. We don’t get to choose cancer or disease, we just have to figure out how to deal with it.

      I’m so glad to hear you’re happy. That’s so important.

  4. Jackie Fox says:

    I love this post. In my own journey, breast cancer gave me so much more than it took away. Granted, this is coming from someone with DCIS and not stage IV, but you still go through emotional turmoil and some of the treatments are the same as for more advanced cancers, in my case a mastectomy/reconstruction. So it’s not the most fun a person can have.

    I have so much to be grateful for–the fact that mine was caught early, my four remarkable doctors who are equal parts skill and compassion, the love of family and friends, getting my poetry back–a part of my life I truly thought was over, but b.c. became a weird sort of muse and it came back. Maybe more of a wake-up call. (What do I want this life I’m so lucky to have, to mean?) And now, being part of this amazing community. I often tell people I haven’t had this kind of warm feeling since my former life as a mental health worker. On balance, I feel very lucky and grateful.

    Great discussion, thanks for posting this.

    • Jackie, thank you so much for sharing your experience with breast cancer. Regardless of the type of cancer we may have, we still have to deal with CANCER. It’s hard, no matter what way you slice it.

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I can tell you are a beautiful person!


  5. Linny says:

    I believe that to be ahead of the game of life we must adopt a spirit of the unsinkable Molly Brown. (the lady that survived the sinking of the Titanic)A never give up attitude.
    I know a man who repairs watches. He has polio. He works nearly everyday. He is a happy man. He gets up everyday with a smile. With braces on his legs and crutches under both arms. He arrives in a suit and tie looking sharp. He was nearing his 90’s when I last saw him, still coming to work, driving himself.
    I never knew him to complain. He has a tiny little booth. People would be lined up all day. Everyone knows him by his first name.
    Anyway I think he had the right idea. This part of him was like a freckle on his face. He just continues, finding a way to adjust like a dog with 3 legs. We have to adopt this concept if we are to enjoy our life still.
    Yes I am happy. But sometimes I’m sad. I’m not Charlie because sometimes I have to stay home. I accept this about myself and just do the best I can.
    I sleep more than most people. Because I need to. I avoid the coldest days. I am at the age where now I can. I haven’t always been able to care for myself this way. I am happy because I can now.
    We each must find a way to be all we can be. We can marval at a Charlie. Most people will never be a Charlie even with their health.
    I suggest you find something to be happy about and grateful for.
    It won’t come to you by waiting and wishing. You will have to make yourself learn. You decide. How do you want to live this life of yours?
    I’m glad I can be happy most of the time. Good luck!

  6. Dear Thyroid says:

    EXCELLENT FOOD FOR THOUGHT — I mean, big time.

    I ask myself all the time, “When will I be normal again?” After an exhausting year fighting my shrinktail on this topic, I realized (I’m paraphrasing), who I was can’t be, and not just because of disease, because that’s part of life. Even though, I was so focused on the business of being sick for so many years, without it, I would have changed anyway.

    Here’s my question, do we think it can be healing to find a silver lining as a result of illness? If we don’t look for that silver lining, do we remain stuck?

    I’m asking myself these questions thanks to this post. Thanks.


    • I think finding a silver lining can be a catalyst for healing. A catalyst, not THE catalyst. Not everybody can see a silver lining, and that’s okay. I think acceptance might be more important than a silver lining when it comes to healing. What do you think?

      Loves back.

  7. Linny says:

    Well here’s what I often think.
    Now in my 50’s because of this illness
    I take better care of myself than I ever did before. As we do age many other issues could develop.
    But I do so many healthy things now that the silver lining is most people would never guess I’ve been so sick.
    My grandmother had rheumatic fever as a young wife and mother.Sick in bed for a year. She was born in 1900. Had two sons. Her second child weighted 12 lbs! She was a tiny 4’11! Although she never could have more children she lived to be 86. At that time the Dr.s discovered heart issues. They did tests to do surgery. When they saw her valves to her heart they could not believe she lived so long. Needless to say they left her alone. Eventually she died a peaceful death sleeping in her chair her glasses still in her hand with the TV on.

    Take good care of yourselves!
    She took very good care of herselve

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