Yesterday I attended the funeral of a fellow survivor who lost his battle with cancer. This person was part of my “extended” family – my brother’s father-in-law – and it hit me pretty hard. This was not his first round with cancer, but this time around he and I were diagnosed around the same time. We both fought. I beat it. He did not. And it just sucks.
I went in to visit the social worker at the local cancer center to see if she had any pamphlets or something I could get for my niece, who is seven. As we began to talk, I realized his death affected me more than I realized. And I also realized that among the sorrow and sadness I was feeling, there was another feeling buried deep. Guilt. I felt guilty. Why did I survive and he didn’t? Why did I beat it (against all odds) and he didn’t?
These are new feelings for me. I know that our situations are different, and I know that he is now home with our Lord and Savior, no longer suffering. But this is the first death due to cancer I have dealt with since being diagnosed with cancer. I am working hard to make my life a real life again, not one revolving around cancer. But sometimes it just hits me. Life is ultimately changed when you get a diagnosis like cancer.
I know it’s been a looooong time in between posts and I apologize. At first it wasn’t intentional, and then it was. I am not someone who can write just for writing’s sake. Actually I generally only write when I need to work through something, and occasionally for updates.
By far my greatest feeling since being declared cancer-free is overwhelmed. It’s hard to sit down and write when you have no idea what to say, where to start, and you have a million other things to catch up on. When I was sick, I rarely cooked a meal and I almost never did laundry. Forget about cleaning. Little Man went to school and day care and I had most of the day to myself.
Now, Little Man is home with me 24/7. I’m slowly but surely getting a handle on cooking again (though I am terrible about remembering to thaw the meat). Grocery shopping and laundry are still overwhelming. I feel like I’ll never get caught up. Our finances are slowly but surely getting smoothed out. I feel really blessed that all we did was run up some credit card debt, especially after seeing articles like this one. Family and friends were amazingly generous and kept us going.
Stepping back out into life has been interesting. Some things are not a priority and others are. For awhile, my priority was enjoying life to the fullest – spending time with Little Man and my hubby, drinking good wine and enjoying good food, and spending more time playing and enjoying friends. But I’m beginning to see now that I need to do more.
I joined a gym for water aerobics, weights & machines, and hopefully some visits with the nutritionist to learn about balancing meals better. I plan to take a “beginner” tennis class in the fall. I decided to join the Junior League. I am the PTO representative for my son’s program at his school. And I’m going to volunteer in (other) classroom(s) on the days he is in school. Just little steps that help me live life, not just experience it.
I can’t promise I will continue to update regularly, but I will do what I can. I am focusing on getting healthy and loving my family, but if I have an update, I will. I did go back to MD Anderson in June, and I continue to be cancer-free, so that is an amazing blessing. Thank you for being a part of my journey and for your prayers.