Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Survivor's Guilt

This summer I found myself struggling for time and the right words for blogging…but today found me with a bit of extra time and a topic on my heart, that is seldom spoke of: Survivor’s guilt.

Many times in life when we are faced with challenges beyond our control, we often can be heard saying “Why me?” When I was diagnosed with cancer, I don’t believe I said, “Why me?” But I did say, “It doesn’t make sense.” You, see, I was doing the things all the magazines say to prevent cancer. Exercise—check! Nutritious eating—check! Healthy lifestyle—check! Nonsmoker—check! No family history of cancer—check! Nursed my babies—check! Good Christian girl—check! Oh—did I just say that last one? Yup, I did…you see, I, like many, thought that I could follow the check list, I would prevent cancer. The funny thing is…cancer doesn’t obey the check lists, nor does being a “Good Christian girl” protect you from bad things happening. (I have never believed that being a christian would protect me from bad things--however, when I was first diagnosed there was some hurtful things said to me in regards to my diagnosis was a punishment because I wasn't following God correctly--to be discussed in a future blog post.)
2 ½ yrs later…

Interestingly enough...survivorship doesn't follow a check list either.  Most days, cancer is tucked away in a nice little corner of my mind.  That is until I hear of someone having a recurrence, admitted to hospice, or passed away.  Along with grieving for the individuals, those days I find myself asking, “Why Me?” Why am I the lucky one? Sure, I still struggle with some painful side effects from the grueling treatment, but how come I am so blessed to not have cancer return, at least not yet?

Unfortunately, there are no answers to these questions, but I do believe there are things we can do to help us with any “survivor guilt” feelings we may experience. First, we can give ourselves permission to ask the questions, process the questions and live with our answers. For me, during these times I need more white space on my calendar, a bible on my lap, and a coffee cup in my hand. Second, we, because of our journeys, have been given the unique opportunity of a “new life perspective.” I, personally, am more courageous and confident. I often find myself willing to take more risks—after, all, I endured surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. (Before cancer, I didn't even know what a blog was, nor would have I attempted to write one.) Along, with more risk taking, I find myself loving more deeply and living more authentically. I want to experience life’s tears and the laughter—for these are gifts of life! Last, I believe that as I try to live a “Life of No Regrets,” I am honoring the blessing of today.

Some things still don’t make sense, but one thing that does make sense is that I can say with confidence, “Thank you God for walking with me through cancer, because without You, I would have never discovered some very beautiful truths.”

Question of the day: If you are a survivor, have you ever experienced survivor’s guilt? If so, do you have any tips to share?

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Friday's word is Older

Friday's five...is five minutes of writing...no editing...

This week's word is Older.


Before cancer, I never really thought of getting older.  After all, I was only 40.  Getting older, is after all, for old people.  It's amazing how perspective changes.  Now, for me getting older, even one day older is a gift.  A very, very precious gift. 

I do think it is sad that our society focuses so much on youth, that we miss the blessing of the older generation.  Since most of my nursing career I have worked with an older population, I have great respect for their wisdom and knowledge.

Today I was at a conference and one of the physicians who was speaking stated that many of us think our bodies don't move as well because we are older, in truth it is because we are less physical active than when we were younger.  Lesson learned--MOVE IT or LOSE IT!!  (Hmmm....good thing I purchased some new running shoes and inserts last night--I have been struggling with a bad case of planter fascities...so going to see if this remedy will help.  I have the greatest desire to start running...)

Five minutes up...

Have a great weekend getting older!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five Minute Friday

A few of the blogs I love to read have been participating in the 5 minute Fridays.  At first  I was intrigued, now I am challenged. We will see how this goes, no promises, no guarantees, but it is a start...

From The Gypsy Mama:  "So, here’s the skinny: I keep thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And so a while back I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Just painting with words. Finger-painting even.
For only five minutes.
I love that so many of you loved that idea too. So we gather here every Friday to compare our five minute masterpieces, in all their messy beauty. We just write, without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This weeks word is New....ready, set, go....

When I first heard the word New...I couldn't help but think that is a perfect word to describe life after cancer.  Okay, not a perfect word, but possible a good word--if you are having a good day, that is...

Cancer survivors realize that every day is a new day with new possibilities.  The challenge is our old ways can trip us up.  The courage and strength we leaned on going through our treatment journey, often gets buried with day to day busyness of life.

To be honest this is something that has frustrated me, especially of late.  I don't want to run the rat race of life.  I want to live a joyous new life.  I want to inspire and be inspired.  I want to share and encourage.  I want to share with others the promise of Hope Lives Now! 

Hmmm, thinking of my time since diagnosis, I have had many new experiences:  my first plane ride, my first trip alone, two out of town writer's conference, speaking with an editor, blogging, meeting awesome new people, and coordinating a support group.

Well, after trying this new experience of writing for five minutes, I am once again, refocused...ready and waiting for some new experiences!

If your interested in joining the 5 minute Fridays, please check out The Gypsy Mama!

Monday, August 15, 2011

As you may have guessed by my lack of blog entries, something is up.  For some reason, time has been in short supply and my days seem to be flying.  Mostly I have been doing good things, but I sure miss writing and connecting with my bloggersville friends. 

I sit here and think about what to write, what to share...
The words which were once so easy, are hiding...
It reminds me of the awkward silence often experienced when we allow too much time and distance in relationships.

So, today I'll start with "HI!"
And we will see what tomorrow shall bring...

Monday, August 1, 2011

To Pink Or Not??

On my desk I keep a sticky note with possible blog titles and/or topics.  One of the titles I had listed for a future topic was "to pink or not?"  Today, in my inbox was  a blog piece by fellow blogger Brenda and I thought...hmmmm....I could write a piece with my thoughts on pink awareness/breast cancer/etc but why would I want to reinvent the wheel, especially when Brenda did such a great job?  So, if you have time, check out Brenda's excellent blog piece  at Breast Cancer Sisterhood.