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Your New Normal: You Don't Have to Be Defined by Your Cancer

A cancer diagnosis has the power to send your world into a tailspin.

“I have cancer”

“I’m living with cancer”

“I’m a cancer patient”

You are so much more than the disease, but when you’re in the thick of it, you can feel like it’s all you are: a cancer patient. The identity can feel so strong that it colors your world after you enter your survivorship stage. But it doesn’t have to define you as a person. Yes, being a cancer survivor will always be a part of you – but it doesn’t have to be all that you are.

Changes that come with cancer

The emotional changes that happen on our cancer survivorship journeys are as varied and diverse as our difference as people. We deal with physical changes like hair loss, weight gain or loss, loss of a limb or a breast, the need for an ostomy and so much more.

It’s a lot and it feels like a lot. But there are things you can do to help with the changes.

Help handling changes that come with cancer

  1. Give yourself time. It’s true, good things take time. So allow yourself time to adjust your journey – from accepting your cancer diagnosis to treatment to survivorship. It takes time to adapt, so treat yourself with compassion and kindness.
  2. Connect with your community. Talk to others who have been in similar situations who can provide understanding and hope.
  3. Lean on your people. Build a network of friends and family who can support you and help you feel positive.
  4. Embrace grace and laughter. Stay calm and embrace humor, laughter has many positive effects on the mind and body.
  5. Get out and move. Physical activity and social activity helps you focus on something other than cancer.

It might feel like you’ve lost yourself in this life-altering journey, so connecting with what brings you joy and discovering new interests will help you create a new definition of you. A definition that can include cancer survivor, but is so much more.

At OhioHealth, we offer numerous classes focused on your care during and after cancer. You can find our current listings here. 


Headshot photo of Dr. Deepa HalaharviAbout Dr. Deepa Halaharvi

Dr. Halaharvi is a board-certified general surgeon with over six years of experience. She completed the Breast Surgery Fellowship at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and provides a surgical practice focused on breast care and breast surgery.

Dr. Halaharvi’s interests include teaching, involvement in clinical breast disease research and community outreach activities. She can speak 4 languages which include: English, Hindi, Urdu & Telugu.




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