Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Normal

As most of you know, I am a breast cancer survivor – almost three and a half years now. Last year I attended the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kick-Off Breakfast, intending to be Sundt’s Team Leader for the walk, and was seated with two other survivors. One of them was a young lady, about 24, who had just finished chemo and whose hair was just beginning to grow back. She was very quiet for the first part of the breakfast, listening to us share our stories, but after about 20 minutes she leaned over to me, grabbed my hand to pull me in closer to her and asked me, in a somewhat desperate voice “Wendy, when will I feel normal again?” I can still hear her voice and it still brings tears to my eyes. “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to learn a new normal now,” I told her. And it’s true – I know I’ll never be the same, in both good and bad ways. A few days later I received an email from her – the vertigo she’d been suffering was the result of the cancer spreading to her brain. I wrote her back, of course, but I’ve never heard from her again.

I didn’t walk the walk last year. On the advice of my Oncologist I have avoided breast cancer related activities for the past year, because honestly I just couldn’t handle it. This year I’m working up the courage to walk again. How silly, right? Well the truth is that that conversation brought it all back for me – the fear, the pain, the side effects, the fatigue that still haunts me, the loss of feeling in my hands and feet due to the chemo, the radiation burns… all of it, in one big rush and I just couldn’t handle it.

So where was I? Oh yes, so this year I’m going to join the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk with my friends and my daughter, Angelina, whom I pray never has to live through what I have. My mother had breast cancer, and I hope that the legacy stops with me. So please join with us to support the cause so I don’t have to tell Angie some day that she too will have to learn a new normal.

If you'd like to support me in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, click here. Thanks!!