I'm a survivor. I have survived two major medical illnesses. Why have I arrived on the other side whereas others with similar illnesses have lost the battle or are continuing to fight for their lives—daily, hourly? Why me? Why not me?
When I got spinal cancer at age 16, I could have felt pity for myself. Instead I decided not to be a victim but rather a warrior. I was going to live, dammit. Thirty years later, I remain cancer free. I have a few scars—battle wounds—but I am walking and breathing and still occupying space on this planet.
Nineteen years ago I was thrown another curve ball. I fell into a deep, dark and hellish depression which hijacked my life and held me hostage for more than fifteen years. Today I am depression free—miraculously. I feel happier and more hopeful than ever. Why did I make it through to the other side when so many linger in purgatory—or worse still—succumb to death?
Is it just a roll of the dice—who gets sick and who survives? Who, what, decides who thrives and who dies? It would be simple to say nature deals the blow, but then, we, become responsible for the fight—we will ourselves to live and live well—or at least well enough. But I think it is more complex than that. There are things like chemicals and other mysterious factors that come into play—things outside of our control.
Should I feel guilty for getting sick in the first place? Should I feel guilty for surviving? Probably not. But sometimes I do—to both. Sometimes I take responsibility when there is simply, unequivocally, none to be taken. It was not my doing, it was chance or luck—bad and good.
I'm sorry Gia. I am sorry Jeff. I a sorry Tibby. I am sorry you lost, are losing. I'm sorry I am happy and living. I wish things were different. But these things are out of my control. My guilt is irrational—I know—but it persists none the less.
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