I’ve spent a lot of time in my adult life joking about being cursed. Let’s face it, based on my track record, it’s an applicable joke.
When I was diagnosed with my first cancer over a decade ago, I was so damn scared. God, how I begged the Universe. Please, please no. Not this. But of course, the Universe doesn’t work that way, and cancer it was. Even after they told me I was in remission, I was still scared. Anyone who has had cancer knows that the fear never leaves you, not completely. You’re always waiting for that other shoe to drop. The fear hovering, following you wherever you go.
Every time they’d say, “We see something, we need you to come in for a biopsy,” or “Hmmm your blood work shouldn’t look like that, I’m ordering more scans,” I’d find myself begging the Universe once again. Please, please no. Not this. But each time it turned out OK! Until it didn’t. Then I found myself saying, f@&k you, Universe!!!!
So here I am again, on the road to healing. Still dealing with lots of side effects and pain. But moving forward in a way many of the other cancer patients I’ve known never will. You see, survivor’s guilt is a real monster. It makes you question why you lived and others didn’t. It eats at you because there’s no answer. No matter how hard you search for one, you won’t find it.
A few years ago, I found myself standing in the grass at a friend’s funeral. We were diagnosed about a week or so apart. We both went through surgeries and treatments that brought us to our knees. We used to text each other late at night when chemo-induced insomnia robbed us of our sleep. We were both declared “in remission.” But then her cancer came back, and it came back with a vengeance. While she suffered, my body got stronger. As her hair fell out again, mine grew longer.
During her funeral, I found myself mentally relaying every moment to her. “You would have loved the guy they chose to sing in church, his voice was incredible, and he was so cute omg!” Sending her a play-by-play to wherever she is now. I watched her son place a single pink rose on her coffin and I felt like I might shatter into a million pieces. “We’re all going to eat together now. Your service is over. The flowers were pretty.”
After cancer returned and that other shoe finally dropped, I realized something. That damn survivor’s guilt has felt so heavy because I’ve been carrying it so long. I think I finally figured out how to put it down. The people I’ve loved who didn’t make it aren’t mad at me for surviving. They are watching me with such joy. The memory of them will never fade as long as I draw breath. I bring them with me everywhere I go.
You see, it turns out I’m not cursed. I’m a walking miracle. I’m the luckiest girl around. I lived.
So if you’re reading this, and you’re suffering in some way, or feeling unmoored, and you’ve been yelling at the Universe, begging for a sign that no matter what comes next you will be OK…
This is it.