A New Normal: Life After Cancer

Last Tuesday I finished my radiation treatment.

I. Am. Now. Cancer. Free! 

Surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiation. 8 months of treatment is now behind me. My oncologist, who I will now see every 3 months for the next two years, said I now have three responsibilities to reduce my chances of recurrence:
1) Exercise 2.5 hours a week
2) Eat well (whole foods, very little sugar, lots of fruits and veggies)
3) Keep my weight down.

My hair is growing back, I have baby eyelashes, my skin is healing, my strength is returning, I’ve finally lost the 12 lbs of chemo weight I gained, and while I’m looking for life to return to normal, it will be a new normal.

I am forever changed because of this journey. Certainly my body bears the scars of surgery and radiation, but it’s my heart that’s seen the most transformation. My compassion for those facing health issues has increased. My understanding of how the body of Christ is supposed to care for one another has deepened. My love for God’s Word has been strengthened.

No one walks a journey like this alone.  

Mark and EvanI’m grateful to my husband and 17-year-old son, Austin, who have walked this journey with me every single day. It hasn’t been easy for mom to be “out of commission.” Mark shaved his head in solidarity. Austin made me laugh along the way and wrote about his feelings in this raw, honest blog post.

I’m grateful to my adult kids and their families who have stayed the course with me. I’m grateful for complete strangers who became friends along the way.

friendsThere’s Christene, Angela, and Judy who I dubbed my chemo coaches. They are women who were just months ahead of me on the journey.

My friend Lisa and both of my daughters helped me shop for wigs.

Crystal put to use her Nurse Practitioner degree and served as my medical consultant.

Cindy cleaned my house every time I had chemo.

Becky helped arrange meals and manage my Caring Bridge page.

My celebration lunch last Wednesday!

My celebration lunch last Wednesday!

Jonna kept track of all my tests, treatments, and procedures, praying and touching base every time.

Robin gave me a hug nearly every time I had one of my 33 radiation treatments.

Amy has sent me a scripture and prayer on Facebook every single day since my diagnosis. Every. Single. Day.

Amy sent me scripture and a prayer every single day for 8 months.  She says she's committed for a year.

Amy sent me scripture and a prayer every single day for 8 months. She says she’s committed for a year.

Dozens of wonderful long-time friends and new friends brought meals.  And hundreds, if not thousands of wonderful Hearts at Home, Facebook, and blog friends prayed, encouraged, and shared hope along the way.

Over the past 8 months, I’ve received prayer blankets, hats, cards, texts, letters, gift cards, Facebook messages, flowers….all at just the right time when my heart needed the encouragement.

I am truly humbled by the love that has been shown to me.

The words “thank you” just don’t seem like enough. But they are all I have.

Thank you for walking this road with me.

I’ll be forever grateful. 

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8 Responses to A New Normal: Life After Cancer

  1. Sandra Bishop says:

    I so admire the positive, attitude of gratitude you’ve maintained through it all, Jill.

  2. Amy Quakkelaar says:

    Thanks for sharing the ups and downs with us along the way! As I have had my own health struggles this year I KNOW God holds us close during these trials and I wouldn’t change it for anything! Thanks too for always giving God the glory! HUGS! May God continue to fill you with his grace and peace Jill!
    Amy Q

  3. Dena Curtis says:

    This is the first time that I read about you receiving treatment for breast cancer because I just connected through Proverbs 31. I went through some of these same treatments when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. I know that you will feel much better in a few months and get back to a “normal” life. I know too that God will be with you and make your life even better. I was so happy to see that you had lots of women that stood with you during this time.

    Blessings to you, your family and your friends,
    Dena

    • JillSavage says:

      Thank you, Dena. I’m so sorry you had to walk that journey too, but it’s great to be reminded that it will be a part of my rear-mirror view very soon!

  4. Annette says:

    Even though we have many friends/family praying, we would appreciate more! Saturday we received a call on the way home from Kankakee for college orientation for our youngest (twins), that my 2 1/2 year old grandson had an accident Saturday that resulted in a terrible head injury and the brain injury that goes along with it. He is progressing but not sure of any lasting injuries. No swelling/bleeding in the brain. Our family believes it is a miracle because we all know how heavy the ramp is that hit him. Eleven or so stitches in his forehead. We are trusting God, but like you, long for the normal life again…a summer full of grandkids swimming in our pool (they just moved back “home” after living in Kansas) and fun things. We sometimes forget that there are so many people that don’t have the “normal” life, and some of them don’t know God’s peace either. My daughter and husband have not left Carle Hospital, except once each to shower. But they are trusting God, who seems to have already worked miracles with little Jacob. So I am praying for Jacob, and the others who are physically suffering today. May God bless you and your family as you enter this next “phase” of your life.

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