The “new normal” is a phrase often used by cancer survivors. Due to significant life changes, many survivors struggle to adjust back to their pre-cancer self. The differences may be slight to the outsider but could be enough to affect the survivor’s sense of self.
Some cancer survivors have surgical scars, emotional scars, changes in energy level, fears of recurrence or simply the vague feeling that something’s not quite right.
Regardless of how it presents, the “new normal” is something that affects many patients.
Experiencing a “New Normal” is Normal
After colorectal cancer treatment ends, it’s generally expected for all to be cheerful, happy and bravely looking towards the future – strong enough to handle whatever life has in store! But this is not always the case.
The expectation of a swift and easy return to pre-cancer life, exactly as it was, is a tall order.
Your new normal could include seeing yourself in a different way, fears of recurrence or shifting dynamics in relationships. According to the National Cancer Institute, the new normal could also include:
- Making changes in the way you eat and the things you do
- New or different sources of support
- Permanent physical scars and/or emotional scars
- Not be able to do some things you used to do more easily
What to do
Transitioning into the swing of life after cancer treatment takes time, and it is important for medical professionals, public health officials and all touched by cancer to be sensitive to it.
So what can you do?
Open up! Especially if you’re a patient or survivor.
Talk to someone! Be honest about your feelings and sense of self. You could talk to your family, friends and, of course, your medical team.
Reach out! Find a support group in your town or call our Resource Request Line for real-time counsel and discussion.
Relax and exercise! These techniques could help reduce stress and anxiety during adjustment periods.
Listen! Our Taboo-ty podcast episode “The New Normal” shares one survivor’s personal account of adjusting to the new normal and offers tips from therapist and senior research coordinator Jean Schleski on how to manage through this transition.