From Mark Levine, the Doc with Pink Tights
The New Norm – Part II

In Part I, I described that a woman can feel low, lonely, and teary in the immediate weeks following completion of primary therapy (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation). This is quite common.
Why does this occur? I wonder if it is due to a profound sense of relief that the big trauma is finished and you “made it.” Another possible explanation is that you feel “protected” by the frequent visits to the cancer centre for treatments.

Your next appointment is in three months and the umbilical cord has been cut. (I will discuss follow-up with your family physician versus oncologist in a future article). What you are experiencing is the beginning of the new phase of the experience with breast cancer. You are facing the future and worry whether the breast cancer will come back. This is scary, but quite normal. Don’t be afraid to talk about this worry with your family and friends.

Typically, the sad feelings dissipate within a month or two as you think about returning to your usual activities. However, the worry about the future is always present. Somehow your mind slowly adjusts to this reality and the worry is relegated to a smaller and smaller compartment in your mind over time

In a small group of women, the worry and uncertainty it causes can provoke substantial anxiety and even depression. If this is happening to you, then it is a good idea for you to speak with your family physician or care team at the cancer centre.

The New Norm is not an easy subject to write about as every person is different and can have different experiences with breast cancer. There is no doubt however, that it can have profound physical, emotional, and psychological effects on a woman.

I do not plan to write about all of these in detail. I would like to continue this topic by describing two case scenarios: a 34-year-old woman with a large axillary node positive breast cancer who has had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation; and a 62-year-old woman who had a lumpectomy and radiation only.

But, first I have to check with my editor, Lee. Stay-tuned.