To those whom I have lost along the way, I honor you. Dwayne. Luca. Sam. Dieter. Isabella.
Anger. Pain. Resentment. Emotions of such high negative value, but the hidden side of being a Cancer Survivor.
What are the thoughts towards what it means to be a Survivor? While my story of Cancer began in February of 2020, with a radical orchiectomy (removal of testicle and surrounding tissue), I’ve known Cancer my entire life. While the stats in Canada say one in two people will know someone with Cancer, my life has been an onslaught of familial diagnoses of different cancers. Lung. Liver. Stomach. Testicular. If this is the first time you are hearing these words, you now are part of the army that knows me, Matt, a Survivor.
I’m alive. I’m alone. I’m scared. I regress into myself, unknowing the future. I’m guilty. Why me. Why now. Why is it hard? I’m alive. Things should be OK, but they are not.
Anger towards the selfishness and lies that come with cancer. Battling alone and lying about the outcome. Pretending and covering a story of terminal. Why do we do this?
As a Survivor, we see through these moments and try and interject. We try and help stop the PTSD cycle that cancer brings. We become more empathetic. We become leaders. We want to leave an impact. We are guilty of living in sadness and sorrow wanting those who we lost to resurrect and be at our sides. We are guilty of not honoring memories as we continue through our life. We live with guilt knowing that it could have been me.
The finality of life. Thoughts. Existence. The emotions tied to a diagnosis and hoping to pull through. No one is prepared for the psychological downfall of living through Cancer. Always looking over your shoulder. Always wondering what the word remission really means.
I’ve experienced death through Cancer. I’ve experienced the emotions tied to end of life battles, and I was clueless about the societal offer of help and hope that would come with a diagnosis. Time fades, people stop asking, yet I have to still go to appointments for ten years for check ups. I am guilty that I get these checkups as part of my healthcare system without it impacting me financially. I’m allowed the opportunity to keep going, but I see through people now. I didn’t expect anger and frustration to surround me when evaluating scenarios. Tasks that were small or mundane and unable to be accomplished by others became a direct trigger to neuro rage type events. Internal meltdown. Having to pick myself up once again. Leaving Cancer, alive, yet broken, and not knowing why.
It’s Survivor’s Guilt.