The "NEW" Normal…

When last we chatted, (OK I type, you read) I was 10 days post op and doing pretty good. I was fairly pleased with how things were going and just kept taking each day as it came. So much has occured since then…And I have so much to tell you. Most noteworthy is the evolution that has has taken place.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was headed off to Scrapfest which was April 8 and 9. I was so looking forward to this weekend; it had been my goal during my recovery to attend and have fun. It was during this event that I truly learned how extensive this surgery was and how very little stamina I actually had postop. I tried my best to put on a brave face and look like everyone else…shopping, visiting with old friends, and scrapbooking at the large crop that Lisa held. Trying my best to look “Normal”. But alas, it took me three days to recover from the “fun” that I wanted to have. On Saturday afternoon, I kept trying to push and keep going further but my body gave up long before my brain was willing to give up. I eventually went home and spent literally 3 days on the couch and was quite ill. I will not forget those 3 days because it was then that I truly realized things were not “Normal” and that it would take a long time to get over all of this. But I believed at that time that once I healed things would return to “Normal” once I saw both of my physicians at the end of April. They would give me the green light to go on with my life.
My Mom and Dad headed home on April 18. They were invaluable to me and my family was so grateful for their presence for those 4 weeks. I was so nervous about them leaving because while my Mom was here she hardly would let me do anything, which was great, but anticipating her leaving gave me a great feeling of trepidation. I was not sure how much I would be able to do…let alone cook a meal, do laundry, clean a toilet, etc… But I was surprised that once they were gone, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Yes, I did miss them terribly, but I was finally in a favourite place of mine; solitude and quiet. I have always and will always love that quiet, peaceful alone time. I continued to have daily visits from my fabulous Home Care Nurse, Kerri. I actually looked forward to her arrival each day because she would allow me to ramble on about how I was feeling and new developments that had come up. I was always trying to shield my husband and kids from all of that trying to keep things “Normal”. Yes, I cried a lot and felt self pity on occasion during my alone time. Recovering from this surgery was very tough and even though people continuously said you are so brave and strong…I truly did NOT feel that at all. I did sometimes get tired of hearing that because at times it was so far from the truth. But the familial trait of keeping a tough upper lip prevailed and I got through it all.
Just as I was starting to feel a little confident and was starting to gain a little strength and stamina back in my body I headed off to Hamilton for my two postop appointments. Never did I think for one small moment that I was about to get the news that I did receive at that appointment. Richard and I headed off to the Juravinski Cancer Clinic on April 20 to meet with Dr. Hodgson. She is a fabulously caring and compassionate doctor and I don’t know how they ever get used to delivering bad news to their patients. But alas, that it was she had for me that day. Despite 4 benign biopsies, my “7 INCH” tumor (Yes, you read that right) turned out to be Malignant! You could have picked me up off the floor because my legs came right out from underneath me. I really believed that it was going to be benign because of the 4 biopsies that I had done. I cursed a little, cried a little, held my husbands hand and then eventually sat in silence. Dr. Hogdson proceeded to tell me that despite this news, the margins of my tumor were clean and there was no lymph node involvement. So, a little good news in the midst of it all. She then told me that she was referring me to the Sarcoma Clinic at the Juravinski Cancer Clinic. Even though this tumor was in my breast, that technically it is not a typical Breast Cancer even though it is termed as such. Phylloides tumors account for 1% of all worldwide Breast Cancers. And of that 1%, only 10% are malignant. Pretty Rare!!!! Years ago it was classified as a Sarcoma of sorts.  
That drive home was just nasty. I have never seen Richard and I so quiet. An eerie silence. An uncomfortable moment in time where one did not know what to say to the other. My sense of “Normal” was being further altered. I did not think I could take it. It wasn’t about just healing from the surgery and going on with my life anymore. It was about something totally new that at that moment in time I wanted nothing to do with!!!! I became very angry in that drive home. I didn’t ask for this! What had I done in my past to cause this? Did I not take care of myself enough? I had a young family…A loving husband…Parents who love me…two brothers who had told me they were not prepared to loose me to any illness yet…a job I loved despite it’s craziness…two friends (you know who you are)who I wanted to get to know even better that I did…things I had not done with my life yet…I could go on…
But then I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and calm once again. I let my brain be quiet. The Cancer was not in my body anymore. It had been removed. All of my scans were normal preop. At that moment in time I was Cancer Free!!!! Despite the news, I was in the clear.

Whatever was going to come my way over the next years, I knew that I would be taken care of very well. Because of all the things mentioned above, I was going nowhere and I planned on staying put and completing everything that I was meant to be; a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a worker and most of all – healthy!!!

With my renewed sense of confidence from the drive home I put on my brave face and told the boys what had gone on and that despite the news Mom was healthy and was going to get even more healthy. Again giving them the perception that everything was going to return to “Normal”. We did not really talk about it much. They seemed like they wanted to return to what it was they had been doing when we got home. Mom had dinner on the table and life continued. Richard and I made all the calls to the family and friends but quickly told everyone we did not want any calls because we just wanted to digest this news and we did not want to keep talking about it.
A few short weeks later, Richard and I headed to the Sarcoma Clinic. I must say that all my bravado the day I got the news had been slowly washed away by the time I was sitting in Dr. Corbetts’ (Radiation Oncologist) office. He delivered the news very matter-of-factly; all the statistics and what my treatment would be. I did not expect (I guess I had no expectations) to hear that I would need 5 weeks of Radiation. Apparently my tumor was a little to close to my lung as the tumor was quite posterior in my chest. And that clean edge of the tumor was only 0.8 mm. So it is prophylactically at this point. So here we are. I am having my radiation In Kitchener; therefore I do not have to drive to Hamilton everyday. A true blessing!!!
But my story has gotten a little away from me. The title of this post ” A “NEW” Normal” was where we started. As the last 8 weeks have progressed my children, my husband and myself have begun to realize (through a few instances with the kids, husband and their interactions with me) that the old “Normal” is gone and will be forever. My strained attempts at trying to achieve that old “Normal” have failed and should have failed. This will always be with us. It has blended it’s way into our lives. It has changed us as a family. It has changed us forever, many of the changes are good ones. We talk about Cancer now. We discuss things about my health. We are going to information classes together. We are going to learn about this together. We are going to HEAL together. We are going to love together and get through one of the most amazing struggles we have ever been presented with. With each other and the love of God, the power of prayer and the strength from family and friends…I will beat this…It will not take me down…I have too much to offer yet!!!
So welcome to our “NEW NORMAL”!!!! Join us on the Ride!!!!




  1. My darlin Joodster… Normal is one of the most deceiving words in the English language. Nestled in amongst it's letters is an evil force that draws us into thinking that "Normal" represents stability, predictability, and a reliance that what we knew yesterday will be the same as tomorrow. Yes – "Normal" is not a good word. Those of us who no longer wear our pants below our butt cheeks have slowly begun to learn that yesterday is never the same as tomorrow. Our children – glowing in innocence yesterday, are all of a sudden young adults tomorrow.Our parents – solid rocks that carried us and cared for us and we turned to yesterday are turning to us tomorrow.Our hair – youthful, glowing, split-ends free yesterday… well, lets not go there.Yesterday and tomorrow are worlds apart.We – your family and your friends who all have a place in our hearts for you – all care for you – all Love you… we celebrate your determination and your vibrance; we embrace you; and we are excited, and grateful, to journey with you no matter where you decide to go.And, while I can't speak for others… I will say to you, my love, my darling, oh most kewl of the kewls… Frack Normal. MWAH!The journey of life is best shared with others. and you, m'darlin… have many to share it with.Scrub and the Wife – we're all over ya. toodles.

  2. Hello Judy! Thank you for commenting on my blog. This is my first visit to your blog. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles over the past few months. I know there is nothing that I can say to you that will make things better for you and your family, but I want you to know that I will be thinking of you. If there is anything that I can do to help you out, please don't hesitate to call the store. I always enjoy seeing you. Heck, if you need a little spot to vent and rant, you can always spend a few hours here with us. We will keep you entertained.

  3. Thank you so much for spending so much time with me yesterday, Judy. It was wonderful to talk with you. Normal Snormal…we're forging a new path!

  4. Thanks for the kind words everyone…Sue, it was wonderful to spend time with you as well. It was good for my soul.

  5. Hi Judy. I haven't been reading blogs lately but chanced on yours today. I'm so very sorry for all your hardships of late. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you move forward with your new normal. Blessings for a very speedy recovery!

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