Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Normal Cliche.

My cancer is gone or hiding. Weird. Sometimes I feel like my cancer experience did not warrant the range of emotions I experienced, or continue to experience. I didn't go through months of repeated chemo. I don't have stage IV anything. But I have or had a very rare, strange, and serious form of malignant cancer that was caught early. Thanks to extensive surgery and a unique chemotherapy treatment, it may be gone. Maybe it wasn't the seventh circle of hell, but it was my experience, my health, and my hell, and months of it. (Yes, I know it affected my family, kids, and friends too.) I've expressed my guilty feelings about my cancer experience before, which stems in part from the fact that I know people in far worse shape. Countless books have been written about survivor guilt. So I'll note that feeling for now and move on.

So, back to normal! And as people in my circle say, "Well, at least back to the NEW normal, right?"

What is the "new normal"? Sometimes I think that phrase is just a way to get people to accept cruddy circumstances and lousy changes. "Hey, it's normal. The NEW normal." And normal can't be bad, right? So if what seems bad is called normal, then it's not bad, by definition. It's just normal.

It's like a coffee shop that has three cup sizes, but they are medium, large, and extra large. If you want the middle-sized coffee, you have to order their "large." It's not medium, it's large! It's not bad, it's normal! You just shift everything one category over, up, or down. It's so American, like grade inflation and vanity sizes. Change the definitions to make us feel better.

Same with cancer. You recalibrate, and set new expectations based on your shifted landscape, and call your medium cup "small" so you can feel like it will runneth over with goodness faster. (You mix a lot of metaphors, too, apparently.)

Maybe that's okay, though, if it helps you cope. Maybe it helps you find a new point of view, a perspective that you missed.

(Image from, click on it for the venti version.)

But, dang it, I refuse to accept "cruddy" as my new "normal." No, I want a really big cup of way-above-normal. Hell, I want the plenta, it's like drinking from a KFC bucket.

One more thing I want to change. (Only one more, Dan?) It's funny how I always say "my" cancer, like in the first line of this post. Well, maybe funny isn't the right word. But I want to remember not to say "my" cancer from now on. It's not mine and I don't want it.


Big Fish Diaries said...

Hey Dan you have a way to "SUPER SIZE" my spirit! I'm right there with you.....I don't want to offend fellow PMPers,it saddens and crushes me when you read about a new death or operations that have not gone as planned. I however have no plans to concede to this physical "new normal" crap they talk about!Heck you and Steve Prekkie could run a marathon together if that is your wish.Now you know there is more than just physical changes caused by this cancer....and we have control over how we react to this and I believe it can enhance our life if we only let it!

Fishing soon?

Anonymous said...

Good perspective Dan. Keep up the good work!
Jim H

I-270, Exit 1 said...

To heck with the stage. You are a success story. I get annoyed with the cancer organizations that state the goal of eliminating cancer. Cancer will never be eliminated, the best we can do is reduce risks (for those few cancers with proven risks) and detect and treat the malignancies early. There ought to be more patients like you and fewer like me.