Something many people who have never had cancer seem to not realize is that even after treatments are done, the person that had cancer is never going to be the same. Never. We have faced death in the eye, a good amount of us made him blink first, and some of us had to learn to live with his hand on our shoulder. No matter which category the person falls in, they can never go back to their "pre-cancer" life. Even if the scars fade, even if the hair grows back, even if our plastic surgeons do immaculate work at recreating our bodies, we will forever be scarred in our hearts and minds.
I'm not saying that the person that had cancer is a trainwreck. I'm saying, don't expect your friend, family member, or spouse to dust themselves off and say, "Well, back to what I was doing before diagnosis." After coming to terms with the fact that you had something so deadly in your body, after resolving to get through all the treatments that poisoned the cancer as well as yourself, after getting the okay to resume normal activities, you will have a person that has been through a traumatic experience. Fear of reoccurance will forever be in the back corner of their mind. Every pain and ache that so many can brush off will be a jolt of terror.
Your life is changed, whether you like it or not, after having a cancer diagnosis. Some can use this as the opportunity to better themselves as a person, they can become more confident in what they need to do. Others can feel washed out with the tide, bobbing in the sea and trying to figure out if they should swim for the closest shore or the nearest boat. But is that shore a mirage? Is that boat sinking? Some people find their circle of friends shrinks in some ways and grows in others. Those that say they would stand by your side no matter what are called on their oath. Unfortunately, sometimes the ones you were depending on to help you are the first to pull the rug out from under you. Some friends that you didn't think would want to be near you are the ones that step up and help you to be at ease with your journey. Some people will just fade away...
Where am I going with this blog post? Don't be surprised if you are greeted with blank stares if you say to a person, "So what are you going to do now that you're back to normal?" or "Why do you need that, your cancer is gone?" (When referring to support or other treatments like plastic surgery once the cancer seems to be fully removed/eradicated). Just because we made it through the treatment phase or have the cancer "under control" it doesn't mean we're jumping back into our old routines, as much as we may wish we could. That's one of the dark sides of surviving through cancer, you are never going to have your life the way it was before. For some, however, it can turn out to be the best wake up call they ever received.