Sunday, March 22, 2015

A new start

Have you noticed I have been gone.  There is a reason for it.  I hit the ground 2 years ago with a clear vision~  I had a voice of being a cancer survivor~ a rare cancer~ and if I spoke, people would listen and maybe protect themselves.

Well, they did.  I was invited to share my blog with Melanoma Research foundation, invited to write about my experience on skincare.com, connected with countless patients, parents, friends and loved ones who shared their cancer experiences.

Then something strange happened.  I wanted the attention to stop.  I was embarrassed to share my story- I felt exposed, vulnerable- like I was self indulging and self serving which was exactly opposite to what I had hoped to accomplish. I was embarrassed as I recognized my story was strangely unique.  I lived.  I never went through chemotherapy.  My cancer was contained, treated and I have been NED for nearly 10 years.  I was never "sick"- tired but if you know me...I recovered and was back to life in 3 weeks. How dare I feel I have a voice...I didn't feel entitled to be a "warrior"- there wasn't this warrior fight.  I was diagnosed, treated, moved on...

Guilt.  I felt guilt. Immense guilt. 

Last summer, I sat on my dad's porch and shared with him my experience. My dad has been my number one support and counselor so after almost a year of these feelings, I needed to share with someone who I trusted.  And finally expressing it helped me put into words I couldn't find for the emotions I was feeling...Survivor's guilt.  

Copied from Cancercenter.com
What is survivor guilt?
Survivor guilt is common among survivors of traumatic events—such as war, natural disasters, accidents, and even acute or longterm illnesses such as cancer. Survivor guilt refers to the sense of guilt or responsibility that can occur when one person survives a traumatic event that others did not. And, yes, cancer can be a traumatic event.
“Not all of our patients experience cancer as a traumatic event,” explains Rhonda Colley, MS, LPT, LMFT, a mind-body therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “But even if they aren’t traumatized, they can still experience survivor guilt, which means basically feeling guilty that they got through this treatment journey relatively unscathed.”
This may not make sense to someone who has not walked the cancer path, sat with fellow patients in the waiting room, compared diagnoses and treatment plans, and given and received encouragement throughout the journey. But to a cancer survivor, it makes perfect sense, and it is another part of the cancer journey that must be processed.  


So...now what.  I have talked with other cancer patients and sure enough~  This is normal. I breathed a sigh of relief as I discovered they almost all felt it at one point or another.  It is just a part of the journey.  It was the part of the journey I was not prepared for so it took me over a year to understand but now that I understand it, it is time to bring about new focus.  

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