This week marks the end of my daughters’ Christmas break and the return to their normal routine, while it marks the end of my medical purgatory and the beginning of a temporary new normal routine for me. This morning, I found myself in another waiting room, completing more paperwork, and meeting another medical team whom I am trusting with my health and well-being. I had my chest marked up with a Sharpie pen, underwent a CT Scan, and learned everything I wanted to know, but was afraid to ask, about radiation therapy. You know, just a typical Tuesday. During the appointment, I ended up in tears, with my doctor joining me, which was anything but typical.
While I am known to shed tears readily, when both happy and sad, I surprised even myself today. It all started when my radiologist was explaining the radiation protocol to me, and at the conclusion, she paused and said something that caught me off guard. She softly stated, “One of the hardest things, for gals like you, is coming in her every day and sitting in the waiting room with people who look really ill. It’s normal to feel some guilt.” As soon as I heard her cautionary words, I felt that familiar pang of guilt that I have experienced numerous times since I joined this particular club. As I attempted to articulate a response, my voice cracked with emotion, and the tears began to form in the corners of my eyes.
I finally explained that I had felt those guilty feelings sitting upstairs in my oncologist’s office among the other patients who were fighting battles far more intense than my own. Then, the tears really began to flow, as I shared with her the guilt that I feel that my two beautiful, blonde, brave, and bad ass friends are fighting for their lives, while I got off easily. This club is anything but fair.
While I am very grateful that my prognosis is good and that I should be leaving this club scarred, but in one piece, there is an underlying survivor’s guilt. You see, while I know that people are fond of that old adage that suggests that when you feel badly about something to remember that others have it worse than you do, I always have loathed that concept. For it saddens me to know that others are facing challenges or struggling, especially two people whom I love dearly, so, knowing that my tenure in this club is easier than theirs doesn’t make me more grateful. It makes my heart ache, and it angers me to no end. I want everyone to exit this club together, not just a select few. My tears this morning were not for me, they were for Michelle and Jennifer.
My doctor handed me a tissue and grabbed one for herself, and I composed myself outwardly, while still weeping inwardly. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about, and pray for, my two friends, and some of the thoughts include the question, “Why me?!” Not as in why do I have breast cancer, but why do I have this type of cancer. It is often referred to as “the best kind of cancer”, which is such a twisted description, yet, there is some truth to it, too. The truth will set me free, but this truth has left me processing a mixed bag of emotions, with gratitude and guilt vying for the top spot.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story