My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me

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!

2 thoughts on “My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me”

  1. This is one fantastic lady. I had the honor of working with Deb during the time she and her first husband were battling his illness. She was the model of grace under pressure we all aspired to. We rejoiced when she found love again, and thar cancer would strike her life again makes us all hate it even more. Her fighting spirit inspires me all over again.

  2. I applaud your efforts and your triumphs. You are the very inspiration that all of us need. I am passionate about protecting yourself from the sun and dodging skin cancer. I am a “baby boomer” who worshipped the sun, had a sun lamp and would purposely burn my back, face and chest just to get rid of my acne. I am taking steps now to reverse my sun damage, always hoping that I am not too late. Thank you for your blog, cancer does not always have the same face or weapons to destroy but they are almost always lethal. We all have to be more pro-active about our bodies, and what we eat, and maintaining a positive attitude. I wish there were more people like you sharing their story, because what doesn’t resonate to one person will resonate to another. Every story is different, and every outcome is unique. God Bless you on your journey, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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