I am a cancer survivor of 19 years. I want to share my story with people and hear their stories. Below is a glimpse into my story that I wrote a couple of years ago. I hope that by sharing my story I give someone else struggling with cancer the hope that they've been missing.
“Survivor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.”
Surely you know what it means to be a survivor. To have all the scars, emotionally, and physically that a survivor has. Surely you know what it is like to be poked and pricked by hundreds of needles and get countless amounts of blood drawn from the veins in your arms. How it is to get MRIs, to lie down on the mat with your head in what seems like a football player’s helmet. To lie in the darkness of the big cold machine and listen to the “click, click, beep, beep, beep” of the machine working away, taking pictures of your brain. To lie without moving a single inch for what seems like an eternity. Or to be put to sleep by sleeping gas, listening to all the doctors around you, telling you stories to make you fall asleep faster, to try to amuse you, “Once upon a time…” The doctors in their snow white jackets and ice-cold hands. And the nurses with their hair up in ponytails and their bright white tennis shoes. The doctors and their serious expressions, and the nurses with their smiles. Mom holding your hand on one side, and Dad standing next to her. To wake up in a fog with that disgusting, bitter taste of sleeping gas still on your tongue. Quietly and patently watching doctor after doctor examine you and take millions upon millions of blood tests.
Hearing all the stories about what a “brave little girl” you were, but having absolutely no memories of being so brave or even being in the hospital until after the cancer was over. My mom always calls me her “Super Baby.” You wonder what it was like and when you are at The Relay For Life, listening to all of the magnificent survivor stories and heartbreaking memories of the people around you; you cannot help feeling guilty for not being able to remember any of the pain and suffering that everyone else around you seems to. To think of all the un-answered questions that you have, but finding it to hard to ask all of them or even put many of hem into words.
What was I thinking?
How did they find it?
Mom and Dad, what was your reaction?
How do you feel?
How did you ever make it through this?
How did I ever make it through this?
People always feels so sympathetic toward you and they always ask you questions that you barely have the answers to yourself, feeling bad that you cannot take the worried look off their faces.
“What kind was it?”
“What are those scars from?”
“How old were you?”
And the most infamous one of them all, “You’re okay now, right?”
To have to live with the constant reminder that those scars give you every single time you look at them. You do not remember any of the pain but you can see it in your mother’s eyes every time she glances at the scars, just for a moment you can see all the sadness and pain and suffering.
Surely you know how it feels to face death and to be given a second chance.