What is the new-normal for people with cancer?
Chad Walkaden, Director & Primary Practitioner
31 January 2018
Since being diagnosed with a stage-four Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma (ACC), I have spent many hours examining the different experiences that are associated with what I have come to label, “This Cancer Life”.
Throughout these four years, I have been working on the development of various concepts and ideas that I believe are pivotal for people with cancer to explore. One of these ideas is about change.
Unlike others, we do not have the privilege of toying around with the idea of change. We do not plan, prepare and execute in a drawn out process.
During my two years of daily chemotherapy, I was subjecting to a lot of change. Notwithstanding the physical, emotional and psychological changes, there was a combination of financial, geographical, social and lifestyle changes. It was also at this time that I started to notice that the changes for someone with cancer operated according to a system this is vastly different to typically cycle of change. Unlike others, we do not have the privilege of toying around with the idea of change. We do not plan, prepare and execute in a drawn out process. We get faced with life-changing news and then we brace for our new circumstances. Our new life. Our new normal.
While I never make assumptions about the experiences for others, I am continually gaining evidence that supports the idea that the differential components to the standardised cycle of change includes: the rapid speed of the change, the involuntary nature of the change and the emotional load that is associated with the change. In other words, the changes that are associated with cancer are primarily driven by fear and loss and they are often exponential changes.
Recently, I have seen a number of key players in the cancer world talk about change as part of the new normal. However, they are promoting a view that a new normal is an isolated stage or a singular period faced when finishing cancer treatment. Despite the good intentions behind this, I believe that this view does not in any way capture the actual reality of our circumstances. We do not have one change in our existence or our normality. We have multiple changes and it is essential for us to recognise that fear and loss are central to these changes. Without understanding the dynamic factors that are associated with this specific cycle of change, we will not help people move towards a different kind of new normality.

A new normal that I know is possible.


A new normal that is free from fear and loss.


A new normal that is created on opportunity rather than anxiety.


A new normal that brings rather than takes.


A new normal that I am now fortunate to be living.


Chad Walkaden is a three-time cancer survivor, experienced forensic social worker and Founder of The Cancer Blueprint. All enquires are to be directed to


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