One year and counting, cancer-free. The weight that is lifted from your shoulders when your doctor gives you the 'all clear' isn't one that can be accurately described, truth is you don't even know you are carrying it until it lifts and your body feels somewhat lighter, freer, better. The tightness in your shoulders and chess eases. The tension in the back of your skull that you had gotten so accustomed to dissipates. I could go on but the point is, the mental burden caused a host of physical identifiers that you only note when they have passed. However, despite this relief, there is another issue to be confronted. We must answer the 'what now?'
When we are diagnosed it is all about getting to this point, being 'healthy' again. Then we get here and we realise we didn't plan the next step. There were plenty of resources to help us get through treatment and prepare us for many of the things we would face while we were fighting, but now, there seems to be a shortage of support now that we have won. So... what the hell am I supposed to do now?
Many of us initially think we can go BACK to our lives. We try to behave as though breast cancer put our lives on pause and we need to get things back to normal. This NEVER works. This disease CHANGES you (mentally and physically) and consequently your life (relationships, abilities etc). Things that were once easy have become difficult. Your favorite dress is now the bane of your existence because you no longer feel comfortable in it and every time you look at it you are reminded of what you lost. This list can go on, the point is, THINGS HAVE CHANGED, pretending they haven't will only cause physical and psychological pain.
Therefore, if you can't go back, you go FORWARD. We need to find our 'new normal'. We embrace what has changed and find a way to thrive within our new circumstance. Because your life has changed does not mean it is now awful. The wonderful thing about creating something new is you have an opportunity to improve on the old. We have been given a gift that many people don't get; a second chance. Embrace it. Things will not resolve themselves overnight. You will not immediately figure out what now works for you but if you fight the fact that things have to change your life will be miserable.
Finding your new normal is a process, one that has taken me six years and I am still figuring some things out. You are entitled to trial and error, experiments, shifts in opinions etc. This is your life that you are figuring out, do what you need to do to find yourself and beseech those around you to continue to offer the support they did when you were fighting for your life because the truth is, that's what you are still doing.
One step at a time, one day at a time...