Monday, April 22, 2013

The guilt factor...

One of my biggest fears was cancer.  I also am scared of sharks – but I’m sorry, if I see Jaws coming towards me from the depths of the sea with his mouth completely open, I would probably crap my bikini and pass out in hopes of drowning before I get munched.  Cancer on the other hand is something that I can stand up to.  Believe me, still scary as hell, but I am willing to stand right the F up and look that fear in the eye.  You never want something that you’re scared of to beat you.  That is just complete and total defeat. 

I don’t like the idea of something growing in me, not just cancer either.  I’m telling you, I am a strange bird.  When I see a baby moving around inside of a pregnant woman, it makes me kinda queasy.  I’ve got nothing against pregnancy or cute, little babies – I like kids, I am actually quite good with them.  I think that creation of life is damn incredible.  I just personally don’t want something doing somersaults in my uterus – or something nastier taking up prime territory on my back or anywhere else on or in my body. 
I came to the conclusion long ago that I didn’t want children (sorry, Mom, I know you hate this).  My list is pretty long and one of the many reasons was that my colitis was so bad at times that I wouldn’t even give it to my worst enemy; I didn’t want to pass that on.  But now that Melanoma joined the party, it validated my decision.  I certainly now don’t want to be passing around my lemon genes.  
I mean seriously, what if I did want children?  This would make me reevaluate things on a huge scale.   There is a story of a woman who had been diagnosed with Melanoma and treated 6 years earlier and thought she was “cancer free”.   I am using quotations around cancer-free because with Melanoma, it isn’t really a cut-it-out-and-we’re-done type of cancer.  Possibly for some it may; they may be ‘cured’ if caught in the super early stages and never, ever have any reoccurrence.  That is amazing when that happens and I hope to be one of those very same non-reoccurrence people.  Though for most it will always be a part of them.  Our cells know how to mutate to this terrible disease and it can't be un-taught.  If not a part of my body, it will absolutely always be a part of my mind.  It’s safer to call it NED – No Evidence of Disease – than to sit on false hope of a four letter word: FREE…or even worse, a five letter word: CURED.  

Back to the story – she and her husband got pregnant for the 2nd time around and about three months after birth, she was out for a run, collapsed and had a seizure.  Her Melanoma was back with a vengeance and spread to several of her organs...with no real sign or symptom (a reason why some people call this the particular cancer the “silent killer”).  During pregnancy, the cancer was not only ravaging through the mother’s body but also her unborn child.  That innocent, little baby was born into a cruel word of Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma; the same exact stage of disease that little baby’s mother would succumb to a short 8 months after giving birth.  Baby Addison will be turning 2 years old this June.  She’s still alive and fighting the 12, yes 12, tumors that litter her little body – there are 5 in her brain alone.   
Whoa…. That rocked down to depressing avenue super quick.  Sorry about that!
Obviously, I am stoked on the negative nodes; but it’s hard for me to not feel guilty.  I cried after hanging up with the nurse that relayed the ‘negative news’ to me out of pure joy.   Then 15 minutes later, I went to the bathroom and cried out of guilt. 

It makes me really sad that so many young people struggle with this stupid disease.  They have to make the trips to the hospital to have chemo, radiation or immunotherapy.  Their lives come to a complete halt to deal with treatment.  Then, typically, that very same treatment makes them unbelievably sick.  Their lives could, and sometimes do, end tragically short.  Then their family has to plan a funeral, which no parent should ever have to do that for their child. 
I can’t help but wonder: Why am I one of the lucky ones?  Why do I get to have that luxury?

A Melanoma diagnosis isn’t lucky by any means, however getting negative results IS lucky.  I’m sure this is common – the guilt factor – it’s called “survivor’s guilt”.  Even though at this point I wouldn’t really qualify myself as a survivor, the guilt is still there.  It’s weird because I should be jumping up for joy on the day that I get clear results, but instead I felt blue. 

Don’t get me wrong or take anything that I am saying as ungrateful – I am absolutely, 1,000% gratified and relieved for these results.  This particular case of the lucks is amazing in my book.  It now makes sense why I wasn’t lucky any time I went to Vegas (or I suppose I should say ANY time I’ve gambled).  I’ll take this luck now and hold on to it for as long as I possibly can.  I have always wanted a four leaf clover tattoo on my side…  I certainly do have luck on my side. 


  1. A tattoo of a 4 leaf clover may be in order.