For the first time ever, I’m experiencing survivor’s guilt. I met a fellow warrior in January after hearing of her story. She lost her mom to breast cancer last September. This warrior was in a hospice facility. I have never visited someone in hospice, especially someone in their 30’s. I found out last week that she passed away and leaves behind a young son. Damn breast cancer. Though I didn’t know her well or very long, I feel the loss with pangs of guilt.
I never truly understood the term “survivor’s guilt” because I have never met someone in my age range who has succumbed to cancer. The people I knew who passed away from this horrible disease (all different kinds of cancers) were always much, much older. There was never much of a connection to their experience. That changed last week.
I don’t like it when people say, “he/she put up a good fight.” What does that even mean? What do you expect people with cancer to do? Of course they are going to fight! Then I wonder why so many get multiple recurrences or why their treatment didn’t work.
On my path – hate saying the word journey now – when I would tell people I had breast cancer, so many would say, “Oh, I know someone who got it twice, and they survived. You’ll be fine.” I want fly into a rage when I hear this lack of sensitivity. This path is so fucking hard. How on earth would I find the will and stamina to fight it again?!
Why didn’t I die? How much longer do I have before the other shoe drops? I’ve actually repressed these questions that pop up here and there, especially the past few days. I could spin myself into a tizzy pondering these questions. I cannot project the future, even pre-cancer.
I’m often described as refreshing, bubbly and sunny. I find it amusing that different people who have never met before all nickname me sunshine. The pressure to live up to that is tough and has become even tougher these days. I can feel a hardness forming in me at times. I think that’s what cancer can do. Just when I think I am over the grieving and anger, it comes out of nowhere and just crushes me.
Many of my cancerversaries are in February and March. These are definitely trigger months. I’ve covered some tough ground to get to this point on my path. Learning of that warrior’s death, I all of sudden feel even more physically fragile.
I’m blooming on the outside, especially when in full makeup. No one sees the pain both emotionally and physically that plagues me on a daily basis. It’s that pressure to be “on” all the time.
I have a tough time with certain breast cancer organizations, especially Komen. I feel lied to. They make fighting cancer look so easy and like everyone returns back to “normal” with ease. This is not an R.E.M. video of Shiny Happy People. It’s not say that I am totally unhappy, but this quality of life is for the birds.
Then pangs of guilt shoot me in the stomach to the point where I double over. At least I am alive for another day… right?
Until next time,