I got some good news today, my brain MRI came back looking good, still have the one tumor, but no new ones and no alarming changes. This tumor doesn’t really have any effects on me or affect my life at all (as long as I continue my seizure meds), so it’s not concerning that it’s still there. So between this and my near-perfect PET scan that showed my mets are still inactive, this is great…right?
If I had to try to figure this out, I’d say I’m feeling some mix of gratitude, elation, relief, confusion, and, well, guilt.
Honestly, I never thought survivor’s guilt would be something I would have to deal with. First of all, the progression of my cancer earlier in this year didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in the “survival” area. And second, you’re still alive, so you should be happy, right? And here I am, surviving!
But some people aren’t.
I had heard of the concept of survivor’s guilt before but assumed it was more of a passing feeling of like “Oh, wow, I’m still here and they aren’t, I should count my blessings.” But this is very different than that. It’s not a reassurance, it’s a true feeling of guilt, very much like I did something wrong.
I got great news today, and on the same day I got that great news, my friend’s husband lost his battle with cancer. He was 28. Has 2 kids the exact same ages as mine. It’s just…not fair. It’s not ok. This isn’t ok! I know so much of this life is not trying to understand and just trusting, but I feel so much anger right now. I know that it’s misguided, but I can’t help but look up and question Him. Mike was a believer, so for that we celebrate, but I get angry thinking about the things his family must now face without him.
I don’t know why I’m still here, I’m no more valuable or any more special than anyone else, I don’t deserve it more than anyone else, I just can’t shake this awful feeling.
I’m reminded of Simon Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus three times before his crucifixion. Now, I’m no psychologist, but I imagine that Peter felt a huge sense of guilt there. He had told Jesus he was ready to die for Him! And not only did Jesus tell him that that wasn’t the case, He rightly told Peter that he would deny Him three times. My point is, when Christ comes back and is speaking to Peter, the opportunity is given to make it right, so to speak. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, to which Peter replies some form of “Yes” and each time Jesus tells him, “then feed my sheep.”
We are here to take care of each other, to encourage each other, to lift each other up. People always do such a great job of that for me, and I’m about to start being a whole lot more intentional with how I do it for others.
I know it’s not really anything I did to make me feel like this, but it is something I can use.