Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Survivorship vs. Survivorshit

The shortlist of ailments, doctors, meds, and questions, lots without answers.
Survivorship is a weird word, like, if you die from cancer, which people do, lots of people (585,720 in 2014 alone, according to the American Cancer Society), then you're not a survivor, which feels kind of offensive to say about someone who maybe survived for a long time with cancer and died from cancer, and then it has this connotation that they were never a survivor at all. It's to describe those who've beat it, to honor those living with it, and that is commendable, cause let me tell ya, it ain't easy. There are lots of books, lots of "things" that celebrate cancer's aftermath: the amazing shifts in life that occur as a result of not dying from cancer, surviving it. That is so very true, I get that.

I feel blessed, and I also feel bad, guilty complaining about virtually anything after having cancer. Like, I'm alive, so be fucking grateful, end of story. I thank God every day for my body, for His healing, for doctors and nurses and science and medicine, for saving me, for saving my family, for waking up in the morning and realizing, once again over and over, that I am here. 

Most days, I have conversations with God. But, there is another conversation that isn't being had all that much. More so lately, and that's a wonderful thing because it means more people than ever before are surviving with cancer. But, there are consequences to that, and no one, not survivors and not doctors are sure exactly what to do with us. So there are studies, new research trials, scientific meetings, and voices rising up about this very thing, because survivors are saying help us know what to do next and doctors are saying we don't really know what to do next, "just enjoy life," they say. 

It can be hard to enjoy life the way we want to enjoy life when we know all too well that it can be taken away in an instant, and when you're racked with anxiety about recurrence, or numb fingers, weird electrical zapping in your feet at random times, a weak hand grip that makes it impossible to screw off the top of a baby bottle or to open a bottle of medicine or a bag of cheese, stabbing pains below radiated skin that come out of nowhere, a tender-to-the-touch bruise that never goes away, and if God can't take away my fear, then who can? When will it end? Will it ever end? This is the next chapter.


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