Survivor’s Guilt

This is not a writing related post and honestly I’ve been putting it off for almost two weeks. Usually, every year when I reach May 9th, I proclaim to the world that it is my “cancer-free” day and celebrate the number of years I’ve been free from Synovial Sarcoma. This year May 9th came and went and I forced myself not to comment, pretended I didn’t notice. Part of me wanted to “not notice” as though forgetting that trauma meant I was never at risk of suffering from it again. Another part worried everyone is tired of hearing about this thing, which is a monumental moment in my life, but probably tiresome to hear about every year. But the real reason I avoided the post this year was because of guilt. I’ve been working on edits for my newest book, working title LETTERS FROM THE DIRT. The whole book is about a woman, a mom in her thirties, who succumbed to an aggressive cancer leaving behind her husband, children and an avalanche of mysterious letters that are delivered through her mail slot every morning before sunrise. As I wrote this story I used some of my personal experience with cancer, but mostly I relied on the experience of my good friends at The Sarcoma Alliance and their journies through this disease. I’ve followed them closely, included them in my thoughts and prayers, and their struggles have weighed heavy on my heart and mind.The past few weeks have marked some major surgeries and losses in our group. They are people I know only through a website, but I connected with with them through my heart. As May came around, to celebrate my continued health seemed unfair, insensitive and cruel in the face of all they lost. 10847802_10205350485663877_6438652792025266897_n But, then I remembered when I was first diagnosed nine years ago. On that day I searched hungrily for stories of long term survivors and found none. Then I remembered how scared I was every time I had a scan or blood test because I’d never heard positive stories of survival from Synovial Sarcoma, only devastating ones. So I decided this is a post I have to make. Not for me, not for the families who wish their stories had turned out similarly, not for the hearts that break every day when the space their loved one used to occupy cries out because of its painful emptiness. I have to celebrate my survival so others will have hope for theirs1186055_10151814592916093_959913265_n So, two weeks late, I celebrate. It has been nine years since I was declared cancer free—nine years since I started down a path to an unknown destination. I look back on those years and I thank God for them. Like the salt in a cake, the bitterness of my sickness has made the past nine years taste even sweeter. 10397833_10201361726644588_2571284491346198623_nPS- If you are suffering from this disease and if you need someone to talk to—please reach out via my email, in the comments or check out the Sarcoma Alliance FB page for a great support system: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sarcomaalliance/

2 thoughts on “Survivor’s Guilt

  1. Caryn Caldwell says:

    I am so glad you posted this. Your gratitude for the last nine years is palpable and important, as is your message that others can have hope in the face of this awful disease. In fact, reading your story gave me chills and a greater awareness of all I have to be grateful for.

    Congratulations on your nice survivaversary (if I can make up such a word). May you have decades more!

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