Six Years After – Celebrating Life After Cancer by Andrea Paine April 12, 2013

AndreaPaineBannerCFN – A few days ago I had my regular biannual appointment with my oncologist.  Going on six years later, the process, strange as it seems, is still the same……. I get a case of the jitters, and start a list of topics I’d like to discuss with my doctor.  In some circumstances I write my pivot nurse, Dail, and send the questions ahead of time so she can speak to my doctor, and have the answers ready for me when I get to his office. I see my doctor, ask the questions I want answered, and then go home, or to work, with a deep sense of relief that I’m OK… fact I feel like a rock star!


Prior to this appointment, there had been a few medical articles published regarding Tomoxafin, the drug I’m on. When I started it, the prescription length was for five years. Medical specialists and researchers are starting to suggest a period closer to ten years instead. I wanted to have a discussion with my own physician regarding these most recent studies, and his suggested treatment for me.


I knew when I was driving over to the hospital that there was a possibility that I would have to remain on my medication for a longer time. At the same time, I was really……really….looking forward to coming off of it, and getting “back to normal”.  The behind the scenes story, and one that most people don’t talk about, is that this medication is known as the twenty pound pill. Does every patient that takes it gain twenty pounds? Probably not. But I did.


And I wanted off of it. I wanted to run with that extra weight off. Imagine running, or walking, with that extra twenty pound sack of potatoes all the time…..


As with everything since being diagnosed with breast cancer, life is different, and the twists and turns that I have been subjected to in the past with this disease will continue in the disease free life that I know now. I left the hospital with the understanding that if I wasn’t going to be on one pill, I’d be on another.


And I realized that the “normal” I was looking for was no longer my normal. It hasn’t been my normal for six years now, when my new normal started.


In fact, my new normal is way better. Since I have been cancer free, I have gained a few friends, and lost others. I have changed my lifestyle and become much more health conscious. I eat healthy and exercise regularly. I meditate, and have developed a more positive attitude. This blog, I truly hope, is helping more and more patients and survivors find their happy space, as well as the inspiration to find that special light in their “new normal”.  I have been a public speaker, and love talking to high school aged children about my experience, and about the importance of learning to maintain a healthy lifestyle at a young age. This summer I’ll be walking to raise money for women’s cancers during the “Weekend to End Women’s Cancers” at the end of August.


This IS my normal, and it’s so much better than the normal I have been looking for in my future. Sometimes we spend too much time and energy coveting one small thing in life…and we get lost in there. It’s similar to those who are never happy with what they have…..They always want that special something that is bigger and better.


When all the time……’s been under your nose.


So here I am, once again, smelling the flowers (albeit figuratively……..please, please, please go away snow) and dancing in the rain (that I can do). Being grateful for who is in this journey with me….pills and all.

A gifted writer, Andrea Paine has been writing speeches for cabinet Ministers and members of the National Assembly and of Parliament throughout her years in politics. More recently, she turned her talents to writing an inspirational blog found at, and is a published author,  with a chapter in a book by British journalist, Chris Geiger.  Andrea has also been involved in public speaking, having been on the speaker’s circuit on behalf of the St-Mary’s Hospital breast cancer foundation in 2011, as well as a presenter, in 2012 and 2013, for the Federated Press Annual Conference on “Working with Ministers and Parliament” in Ottawa.


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1 Comment

  1. I to had breast cancer 10yrs clean this yr. I am trying to get the word out that in 2008 Dr. Nicholas Guay finally won the rights for women who have lost breast to cancer, for free reconstructive surgery. He did mine last yr. Both breast are back and so is my zest for feeling female.

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