My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me

May 24, 2017

My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me
Deb at the finish line for the 2014 B.A.A. Half Marathon. Deb ran to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

By Deb Norris

My life plays like a Lifetime movie. I was born tall, blonde, with big breasts (note – they later tried to kill me). I was the straight-A cheerleader who dated the captain of the football team and became a corporate executive.  Friends teased me that I lived a charmed life. Then at 38, I lost my husband to glioblastoma, the “deadliest of all brain tumors”. It was a 16-month fight that confirmed my belief that what does not kill you, makes you stronger.

A couple years later, I reconnected with the football captain and married him for my happily-ever-after. I was 43, I had a great career. Life was good. Then came breast cancer. This time it was me, and I needed to take control. This Lifetime movie was only half over and I wanted to be the one writing the ending.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2012, I wanted to get my treatment done as quickly as possible and get back to my normal life.

Always the planner, I set goals to be done with chemo by spring, done with radiation by Memorial Day, and done with Herceptin by the end of 2013. No delays, no rest periods, just keep powering through. The goal was a fresh start for 2014 with life back to normal.

Deb and her husband, Greg, at a Patriots game in Nov. 2014.
Deb and her husband, Greg, at a Patriots game in Nov. 2014.

Well, I did it! But there was one problem: I was different. The normal I used to know was no longer what I wanted. I no longer wanted to work two hours from home and be away from my husband four nights a week. I no longer wanted to go from meeting to meeting and realize it was almost 6 p.m. and I hadn’t used the bathroom all day.

I wanted to take care of myself. Eat better, exercise more. Push myself to do new things. De-stress life.  Be a part of the community. I was ready to live my life.

Somehow the breast cancer experience gave me the courage to make changes in my life. So, last spring my company did a restructuring and I raised my hand. I took a severance package and moved home with my husband. I am doing the things I realized I wanted to do. I now eat right, exercise, and pee several times a day. Life is really good.

Although it’s been over a year since drugs were last sent through my hand, the daily tamoxifen pill reminds me the breast cancer battle is ongoing and not to lose sight of it. I don’t dwell on it; I just keep it in the back of my mind. I am glad it changed me; thankful actually. I am enjoying writing the rest of this movie! 

If you’d like to stay tuned, you can follow my blog at Oh My Tiny Little Pea Head!