Since my liposarcoma diagnosis in the fall of 2014, I have had countless "new normals:" during chemo, immediately after chemo, months after chemo, during radiation, immediately after radiation, after surgery and anesthesia, and so on. I knew my life would change after receiving my diagnosis, but I had no idea how many "new" normals I would experience — and that they would change just after I got used to them.

Day in, day out imageFor 2016, I want normal. "New" signifies something has changed. I want to get to a regular, plain old, ordinary, ho-hum normal. I want to know what I can eat and how it will affect me — all the way through. Will I like the taste and/or texture now? Will it give me heartburn? Will it make me feel nauseous or will it gurgle around awhile in my stomach? Will I need to be near a toilet or can I stray farther afield?

As I recover from three tumor-removal surgeries, I want to know what kinds of activities and exercises I can do without needing a week to recover. How much of these can I do without feeling exhausted for the next two or three days?

I want a "normal" back when interacting with family, friends and coworkers. I want to feel that when they ask me how I am doing, it's a normal "how are you" rather than a "how are you as a person who has cancer?" I want to know that when they say, "I like your short hair," they mean just that and not "I like your short hair, so don't feel bad that it fell out due to chemotherapy." Most importantly, I want to be able to take "you look really good" as a simple compliment and not as "you look really good for someone who has a serious illness that many people die from."

I just want a normal, not a new one.

However, if this wish does not come true or takes a while showing up, being able to handle it and not merely survive but shine through whatever else comes first, that is not a wish. That is a certainty.

Share Your Thoughts

What do you consider "normal" since your cancer diagnosis? Do you think "normal" is possible? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Amy Koch grew up in southeastern Wisconsin and, after a fair amount of traveling, living and working in other places in the United States and abroad, she has been living in Milwaukee since 2005. She has a B.A. in international studies, an M.S. in curriculum and instruction and various teaching licenses. She speaks fluent Spanish and functional Japanese. After working as a bilingual elementary school teacher in Milwaukee for eight years, she is now an instructional coach specializing in reading instruction. A lump in her left thigh in late summer/early fall of 2014 turned out to not be a "nerve or muscle problem" that just needed time and rest. She was diagnosed with liposarcoma in October 2014 and started chemotherapy in November. After chemo, neutropenia, radiation, surgery, more tumors and subsequent treatments, she thinks she is cancer free as of November 2015.


This is such an important perspective; thank you for sharing it. As the person who says "Your hair looks great!" and asks "How are you?" I'm reflecting on what message may--unintentionally be--behind them. (For the record, I do love your short's very becoming.)

Amy Koch

Thanks, Peg. Normal, boring ... I'll take them! Gentle wisdom? I don't know whether to blush or to snort-laugh ;)

Peg Grafwallner

Thank you, Amy, for this reflective post. As my brother was going through his cancer experience, I remember many times asking him how things were going. We laughed when he would say things were "boring," because we LOVED boring, we longed for boring, we embraced boring. You continue to inspire all of us with your gentle wisdom. Keep blogging, Amy!!