On a daily basis, I think different cancer thoughts. I sometimes flip flop between wanting my breast back to the generic 'I'm so lucky to be alive.' What I have started realizing is that although many of my thoughts aren't normal, based on the hand I have been dealt, many of these thoughts are natural. In order to distinguish between the two, I interpret 'normal' as being: average, common, and thought by others whereas 'natural' is more: expected, probable and thought by others in your situation.
I've been thinking about natural vs normal a lot lately and as thoughts drift into my mind, I often wonder if other cancer survivors and/or if people who have never had cancer think these same thoughts. Are these cancer thoughts? Katie thoughts? People thoughts? Or a mixture of all three? (Sometimes I picture some of you reading an entry and thinking 'What the hell is she talking about?'. I hope I haven't lost you this early).
Here's a good one - at least once a week, I think about how long Keith would wait to start dating after I died. I'm not saying someone who has never had cancer has not thought about this, but I highly doubt it's a weekly event. I don't think that's a normal thought however, I feel like it's natural considering I've had cancer. I wonder what his new girlfriend will look like and if he'll talk about me. I wonder if they'll do stuff that we do and if he'll enjoy them as much with her. The weirdest part is that I'm getting used to thinking about this kind of thing. I don't have that same rush of emotion come over me the way I did when I thought about this for the first time - instead, I am genuinely curious about the answer to these questions (here's hoping they stay unanswered forever).
I think about my funeral a lot. Who would come? What songs would they play (this is a really important one for me because I've already picked some out)? How would people remember me? Would I die as Cancer-Katie or as who I was without cancer? I know these aren't normal thoughts (although I will admit that I did think about the VIP list at my funeral before I had cancer because let's be honest, whether I die tomorrow or when I'm 97, my funeral is going to be the event of the year), but they are natural considering that I had cancer.
I know I have written about guilt before, but I still carry a lot of guilt around with me. I feel guilty that my niece has to check 'cancer' on any medical family history forms for the rest of her life. I feel guilty that my mom feels guilty for the cancer 'skipping' her and finding me. I feel guilty for the fear that others have for me, for the future, and for recurrence. I'm Catholic, so I feel guilty for just about everything that I do, but cancer guilt is a new level of guilt. It may not be normal to feel this way, but I've learned, by connecting with other women, that it is indeed natural.
I think about the next time I have cancer. I know that's not good to put that out there, but if I'm going to be honest, I think about getting cancer again. Sometimes, I get a pain in my left arm where my PICC line was by just thinking about going through the procedure again. I envision what my friends will say and I think about how I will respond to people saying 'Well, at least you know you can get through it.' (because I know people are going to say that). I think about chemo and more scars and how I'm going to deal with the needles. I think about growing my hair out just to have to shave it again. No part of these thoughts are normal.
The same way most of us think about our day; plan when Ashley needs to be driven to soccer practice and when Jason needs to be picked up from piano lessons, on top of work, grocery shopping, this weekend's wedding and next week's yard sale, I think about cancer. I plan many futures with many outcomes and depending on what cancer has in store for me, my future will be very different. Now, some of you may be thinking that this is a very sad entry, or that I am 'down in the dumps' but to be quite honest, I am writing this with a smile on my face. Seriously, I can see the reflection of my teeth on the screen as I type... No, I can't... but all joking aside, what I'm trying to say is that my natural thoughts have become my normal thoughts anymore. Thinking these things doesn't make me sad or think negatively, instead they are just my new reality and they are what I think about when I think about the future. These thoughts make me feel naturally normal.