“Did you ever officially register as a survivor?” This question threw me off. Big time. Wait, what? Is that term trademarked? I’m not even sure I fit the qualifications. Am I missing something here?
As I glanced down at the registration form in front of me, I realized what she meant. Have I registered for the Relay for Life survivor’s lap. I told her no and she told me how I could do it online and that was that.
But it got me thinking, wait, do I really qualify for that? Not only that, but they’re giving me the honor of praying at the survivor’s reception dinner! And I’m getting to speak at another Relay for Life event soon. Hmmm, should I tell them I’m not qualified? When I think of surviving something, I think of something that’s finished. Over. Like, “I survived a shipwreck” or “I survived a baboon attack” or “I survived a Miley Cyrus concert”. Something horrible. Something that makes you fear for your life. Something that’s over.
Cancer will never be over for me. While my cancer is making great strides and breakthroughs, I’m not confident that within my lifetime I’ll be cured or ever declared “cancer free”.
So where does that put me? As far as regaining my life before cancer, I’m dipping my toes in again, but often with reservation, reminding myself, “Don’t get your hopes up; don’t get ahead of yourself; don’t get comfortable. Yeah, you feel good now, but one badly placed met and you’re a gonner.”
The registration sheet says that we are all survivors once we are diagnosed. I really like that. And I want to feel like I am but I’m certainly not able to scream from the mountaintops a Katy Perry-esque anthem of victory over cancer. Mentally I just cannot put myself up on the level of the brave, beautiful, proud cancer survivors that I think of when that word is said. The people that can claim “cancer free”. Wow. Now that’s a survivor! I want so badly to be able to wear the shirt that says, “I kicked cancer’s [expletive that rhymes with sass and refers to the hiney region]” but maybe that’s just not in my cards.
I feel like if me and cancer had a facebook relationship, it’d be “it’s complicated”. I’m surviving, and that’ll have to be enough. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt that says, “I’m surviving cancer; It’s complicated” for my lap 😉