Young Breast Cancer Survivor Rosie Blankenship
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By Alanna Kennedy

Cancerblog

Rosie Blankenship is navigating a new landscape after cancer

By Alanna Kennedy


Rosie Blankenship was only 34 years old when stage II breast cancer threw a wrench into her life plans. She and her husband were raising their daughter and looking forward to having more children. Now, four years later, she is navigating an entirely different landscape as a divorced mom and cancer survivor.

Rosie Blankenship with her daughter, Colleen.In a blog entry from April 2009, Blankenship wrote about the heartache cancer caused her life. One of the most wrenching moments occurred when she realized her marriage was unable to withstand the emotional strain of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. “I feel like the loss of my marriage [in 2007] is directly related to cancer,” she says.

While there are days when she feels down, Blankenship is looking forward to her future as a cancer survivor. “I get the option to start over, even though it wasn’t something I was seeking out,” she says. “I’m doing things I never would have imagined … and I can’t imagine my life being any better.”

CANCER IS MY SCAPEGOAT                    
April 13, 2009

A survivor asked today, “what is the new normal? WHERE is it?” I had to find a new normal when cancer struck, then again when my marriage ended. I don’t believe in normal anymore! We have what we have and we are either happy with it or not. Some of it we can change. Some of it we can’t. It just is what it is and THAT is what people call normal.

More than anything, my divorce has changed my life. I have lots of moments where I want to hit the “rewind” on that situation—go back to when I was madly in love with my husband and thought nothing could ever come between us; back to when we were planning more babies and loving the little one we have; back to dreaming about growing old, sitting on the deck in rocking chairs; back to when I thought he was the sweetest, most honest person I’d ever known; back to innocence; back to the fantasy.

As much as I might try, you can’t do that. (Wouldn’t it be exciting if you could?) Once that all fell apart, I really had to re-envision my life—completely. It destroyed everything I had or thought I had far more than cancer. So, it was a double-whammy. Cancer in 2006. Husband left in 2007. Everything I knew and held dear was stripped from me.

The best I can do is say that I have to approach everything with this “clean slate” that I have been given. I didn’t choose to erase the white board. It was erased for me. But now I get to fill it up again. The choices are all mine. Do I use dry erase markers or Sharpies? Do I use shading or draw stick figures? Do I get artistic help or do it all on my own? It’s exciting in a lot of ways; scary in others.

To read more of Blankenship's blog, Someday, we'll look back and laugh, please visit RosieBlankenship.com.

To recommend a blog for CR’s Cancerblog column, send an e-mail to Kennedy@CRmagazine.org.

(photo credit: Troy Maynard)