The New Normal

An Outlook On The New Normal Of My Life After lymphoma

How to adjust to life as it is after what was and getting used to the new normal.

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I thought that when I was healthy again, my body would simply return to the way it was. I figured that much like when my hair fell out, my body would eventually grow back. As my hair appeared like saplings breaking through the earth, I became increasingly frustrated when my muscle was still atrophied. The chemotherapy still plagued my body with muscle spasms, vast spiderweb-like stretch mark scars, and to top it all off, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meghan Sorensen is a stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor from Boston, Massachusetts. She now finds peace with her service dog, Finn, and attends Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT.

Meghan Sorensen

For six months, I had waited for the day to come when I no longer had to spend only brief, intermittent moments outside of the hospital. Unfortunately, at the end of that time, I still was not where I felt I should be. Walking was still a struggle and climbing up the stairs was nearly impossible. Challenges kept piling on, but this time I saying I had cancer was not enough.

Hadn't I been cured? Shouldn't it be easier?

Simply put, I was missing overall patience. It had not taken long for me to deteriorate to the physical and mental point I had been in and I did not realize that it would take a lot of work, patience, and forgiveness within myself in order to fully heal. I viewed my stretch marks as signs of survival and progress rather than tears in how I had previously pictured myself.

In the end it turns out that it was patience that was key.

In time, I took walks and gave myself the breaks that I desperately needed. I let the muscle spasms come and go, understanding that one day they would be gone for good. As for nightmares and triggers, I adopted a service dog named Finn who easily stole my heart. Fin in Latin means the end. He was the cure, the ailment, and the end for many of the troubles I had suffered.

More than anything, I believe it is man's inherent wish for everything to be fine and return to a less stressful, “normal" life. I am getting there by learning that my scars and past may not disappear, but they are part of who I am.

Throughout this time of sickness, my outlook on the world changed in more ways than I could imagine. I saw the world as unpredictable, but not always in a negative way way. Sure, I had received a diagnosis of cancer, but I had also found support and love that I had never experienced before. Rather than allowing fear to rule my future, I chose to take every moment in and live my life to the fullest.

I now see life as incredibly fragile, unpredictable, but most importantly, precious. I live for every moment and I take nothing for granted. That is my new normal.

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