Dec 18, 2012 - 12:09 pm
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm just going to jump in. I'm having a hard time with this whole cancer thing. I don't really know what to think of it. I think, at the moment anyway, I'm considered a survivor. Funny thing that is. I consider myself a survivor of many things. I survived an emotionally, physically, and mentally abusive upbringing with two hoarders. I survived 3 head on collisions (not the driver even once). I survived raising a severely asthmatic son on my own and moving to another state where I knew no one at 19 to give him a better life, and never panicked once when he turned blue (until he was pink again). I survived having an emergency c-section that went VERY badly and left me VERY ill, including making me have a heart attack and fought for my 3 month premature 2 lb daughters survival at the age of 24(She is thriving and you'd never know where she started). I have an amazing home, amazing kids, an amazing husband who is the best father two kids could ask for. When I was 27 I became very ill and had to stop working and things were very scary for a while. 2 years later I was diagnosed with epilepsy and am now on disablilty due to over 30 seizures a day even while on meds (thank goodness not grand mal!). I can no longer drive and things have changed for us all quite drastically, but adjust we have. I am happy in my new existence. I can't drink (at all), I can't drive, I can't leave the house by myself, which usually draws tut-tuts of pity from people, but I knit and crochet, I write, I read, I bake and cook (when someone is home so I don't burn the house down if I pass out, lol). I have a good life. I feel that I have survived much and been rewarded.
Then last April my mom was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. Since it's hereditary there was concern that if I had it I needed to be diagnosed quickly since my anti-seizure meds can affect kidney and liver function as can PCKD. I went to the Dr and she did some bloodwork to find something for the insurance co. to hang their hat on. I was anemic so she ran with that and I got my ultrasound in May. They found a 4.3 cm mass on my right kidney and referred me to a nephrologist, but I was still thinking PCKD. I saw him in June (three days before my 32nd birthday) and he did a CT and called me an hour after I got home. It was 6.3 cm and had to come out. He referred me to a urologist. I had a robotic assited radical right nephrectomy on July 30th. The surgery was nothing like I had feared. With my c-section I had so many problems and was sick and in pain for so long I couldn't believe people did them electively. I was sure this would be worse. It was so much easier. I was walking that night. Could stand up straight the next day. It was RCC but was fully encapsulated with no other involvement. I had my first follow up scans in November and they were all clear. I am elated and I feel blessed but also a little lost. I feel 6 kinds of wrong saying this, and desperately hope I'm not offending anyone, but I don't feel like I've done anything - been through anything. Of course I have a little fear before my scans and such, but I don't feel that I've survived anything. I don't feel like anything has happened. I have all of these new scars and I still tire easily, but I don't feel any differently. When people mention that I've survived cancer it's embarrassing to me. I didn't fight for this. I didn't do anything except get lucky that it was found and then show up for the surgery. My Uncle just passed of lung cancer and fought long and hard. My grandfather passed from prostate cancer after fighting for 3 long, agonizing years. My step-grandfather on the other side has fought and beat prostate cancer 3 times in the last 20 years and is now battling blood cancer of some type (I'm unsure what kind, he doesn't want to dwell on it by discussing it). They were/are survivors. They fought, and one of them still is. I don't see how I can possibly place myself in the same category. There has been no chemo, no radiation, no hair loss, no nausea so bad I can't stand the smell of food from the neighbors house. I have, quite literally, been fine. The minor discomfort and pain post surgery doesn't feel adequate to gain admittance to the club. Is this some form of survivor's guilt? Am I being a fool? I am aware of the gift I've been given. I am more grateful than words can say that I am here to celebrate Christmas with my family this year and the tumor isn't. I just don't feel that I've actually survived anything. And then feel guilty for feeling that way. I can't talk to my mom, dad, sister, husband about this because they're so adamant that I'm so tough, so amazing. That I got through it all without hardly batting an eye. That I'm such a rock. I'm not though, sometimes commercials make me cry (and always have), it's just that this didn't seem hard enough, and maybe that means it'll come back because I didn't earn it.... didn't work for it, didn't fight. Does anyone else feel this way or am I just crazy?
(Edit) I need to add, I think you all are amazing. You're compassionate and tough and you've all been through so much. I hope that I haven't offended anyone as I consider all of you to be survivors. It's me I'm having a hard time with. I hope that makes sense and you can see through this bumbling attempt to what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to seek help for. Thank you so much for your time.