Sunday, September 18, 2011

Survivor Guilt

This summer has brought the loss of three women from the Noble Circle group I belong to.  The Noble Circle is designed for women to survive and thrive even though they have cancer and begins with a rather intensive weekend retreat followed by 10 weeks of weekly meetings usually lasting around 3 1/2 hours each.

Needless to say, you get to know the "sisters" pretty well.  Shortly after we started, we lost Penny who had an unknown primary.  Then Robyn who was my chemo partner lost her battle.   The next to go in August was Katie.  Penny was 35 and had a 16 year old son,  Robyn was 53, and Katie was 34 and had three children under the age of 14.

Sometimes you begin to wonder, why am I still alive?  Certainly these wonderful women had just as much to liv for if not more than I...If you're not careful, you slide into survivor guilt.

Some of us make it,some of us don't.   It doesn't mean that one person had more to live for than another, or that one person was more wicked than the just is.  We know so little about what causes cancer, what cures cancer, and about survivorship in general. 

My neighbor mused on this when I returned from the last visitation.  "Why did you survive and they didn't?"  I answered, why did my father survive not one heart attack, but ages 50, 72, and 78 and is now 89 years old?  She looked at me and blinked and said "My father died of a heart attack at 48."

I don't know.  I do know that I'm here, at least for now, and I'll do what I can.  Others who are closer to Penny's son and Katie's kids will be there for them.  All I can do is to say a little prayer when I think of them to help them...

If you find yourself having survivor guilt,  look at it.  If you need to, get counseling to help you.  It is normal and to be understood. We have, after all, gone through a tough battle.  We are warriors.

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