A writing sample from my writing group of cancer patients:
Rainbow was a feisty girl-opinionated, passionate and stubborn. When she was in First Grade, she played hooky from school, because she didn't like the vinyl jumper her mom dressed her in.
The school called and told her mother to pick her up. When Rainbow got home, she admitted she wasn't really sick. Her mom yelled, "Goddammit Rainbow! I'm going to send you back to school!"
She didn't follow-up on the threat.
This same obstinate behavior travelled with Rainbow into her 20s. It gave her the energy to work 60 hours a week at a very tense job in TV news. Back then, Rainbow could hear a million voices and respond to them all.
At 32 the lights began flickering out. Rainbow collapsed while going to retrieve a bottle for her baby son, and was never the same after that. The energy for working 60-hour work weeks, and fussing over clothes was GONE. No one thought they would miss her sassiness, but sassy beats being a zombie, which is what Rainbow felt like after this first seizure.
At age 39, the Big Bomb was dropped. Rainbow found out she had brain cancer.
"This explains a lot," she thought. "It explains why I'm so moody, and why I cant find my belly button, even with MapQuest."
"So when am I going to die?" she asked the doctor.
"I don't know," the doctor said. And even if he did know, he wasn't going to say, for fear of being wrong.
Rainbow had the moldy part of her brain removed, but couldn't walk or use her left side afterward. The obstinate Rainbow came back however, and learned to walk again, and flip her husband off, with her bad hand!
Now at 43, there are many things Rainbow can't do. She must riddle her house with post-it notes to remember. She cannot listen to a million voices and respond to them all. She does not feel good about herself, even though there is an excuse for her incompetence.
No one thought feisty Rainbow would turn into Tumor Girl.
"New Normal" are the words often used to describe how we must adapt after a life-changing event. Rainbow hates the "New Normal" and wants the old one back.
Small things are a struggle now. Making dinner seems to take all day. She needs to nap in the afternoon, and wonders how she will continue this journey.