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My journey as a writer began as a child, but my first published book came as a result of my ovarian cancer diagnosis. The title is Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir which received two awards. All proceeds are donated to gynecologic cancer research. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club. Follow me on Twitter @KIngallsAuthor www.facebook.com/KarenIngalls, and you can find my books at www.amazon.com. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2017.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DO I DESERVE THIS?

This guest blog is written by Robin Maupin, a long time survivor of ovarian and endometriosis cancer. She talks about "survivor's guilt" which is a common reaction many men and women experience after being "cured" or in long term remission. My thanks to Robin for sharing her thoughts in a most poignant manner.




   I’ve been extremely blessed to see four of my granddaughters born since my diagnosis of ovarian and endomemtrial cancer in 1997. 


                                       I’ve survived 16 years after my diagnosis. 

   In those years, I have lost countless friends in the cancer community. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why I am here and they aren’t. When we’re diagnosed, we ask why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Similarly, when we survive, I think it’s normal to ask why? Why did I survive when so many have not?

    Statements have been made to me by well-meaning people whose explanation for it is simple:       “God has a plan for you”, or “You must’ve done something right.” As if I were more deserving to live than anyone else? I don’t accept this. In fact, there are little niggling thoughts that come into my head that say, “you’re undeserving." “What have you done to deserve to still be here?” “How do you justify your survival?” 

    Have I always made healthy choices physically, emotionally and spiritually these last 16 years? Absolutely not. It’s called survivor’s guilt. Yup. I have it. It’s not commonly discussed among survivors. I think it’s because it seems somewhat self-indulgent. The unspoken message is “just be grateful and move on.” Not so simple.

   So, is the word “deserve” even appropriate here? Deserve implies some reward for something done. According to the dictionary deserve means to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation. Am I deserving? I’m just a flawed human being – albeit somewhat more enlightened now – trying my best to be a good person. 

   
Cancer, just like life, doesn’t really have any rhyme or reason. Some die, some don’t. Surviving cancer, while it’s something to be very grateful for, is not like winning a game, being a victor. At least not for me. I came through a war. I survived. I lost comrades. There were fallen warriors along the way. The losses are too great to celebrate victory. I’m here. I’m neither more or less deserving to live than they were. We all had lots to live for and the desire to survive, especially the young women with their whole lives ahead of them and young children to raise. I’m here. They’re not. There is no reasoning.

   All I know is that living my life as best I can is a memorial to all you have passed on before me, and I will never walk away from the cause. 

    I do it for them. 
     I do it for myself. 
     And I do it for all of the women who have yet to be diagnosed
      And who will be where I was---      
         Fighting for their lives.
          Do I deserve this? I absolutely do,
             But so did all of the other wonderful women who didn’t.


Thank you, Robin, for your very informative, touching, and inspiring message. Your words are a blessing to many. 

Certified Professional Cancer Survivorship Coach
Womens' Cancer Connection

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very enlightening!

Sharon Greene said...

Beautifully put! I struggle with survivor's guilt, particularly around cancerversarys when the world tells me I should be celebrating. As you said, I didn't do anything remarkable to achieve my long term survival. It just happened by the luck of the draw. Thank you for this very insightful article!

ovariancancerjourney said...

Thank you Robin for your wonderful inspiring words.

Jim Ingalls

Robin Maupin said...

Thanks all. I hope that other survivors will know that they aren't alone in having survivor's guilt. It's very natural and normal but I find that helping others by showing them a long-term survivor and giving back in the name of the women I've known, helps me to feel that my survival can be a gift to others as well as myself.