Throughout the last two years of living with the big “C” and delving into the big “C” world, I’ve met countless other survivors. I’ve joined several support groups. I’ve become heavily involved in various cancer charities. Now, I’m blogging and finding other bloggers opening up about their big “C” lives. Basically, from the moment of my diagnosis, I pushed myself right through the cancer club door, no questions asked. I anointed myself a member of a club I never wanted to be a member of, and obviously, I never expected to be a member of.
Within this cancer club sphere, a topic that constantly comes up is the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” I’ve seen that the reactions to this phrase run the full gamut – we either embrace it unwaveringly, or it makes us want to punch people in the face. (See below – this is a card I actually received from one of my favorite snarkiest friends)
[DISCLAIMER: This is a “judgment free zone.” I never judge any cancer survivor’s reactions, feelings, etc. to their situation. Our cancer is our cancer and no two are the same. While I may personally feel different from others, and I may embrace my experiences in certain ways, neither is right or wrong.]
So, for me, I do in fact believe that things happen for a reason. After seriously contemplating life and death, and facing a potentially terminal disease, not to mention 3 complex brain surgeries, you can’t help but think, “What does all this mean?”
I was not always a very positive person throughout my life. I was very cynical, even at a young age, and many times unhappy, really for no legitimate reason. I frankly had a fantastic life. Who knows where all that came from? However, immediately after my diagnosis, everything changed.
I never got angry. I never questioned, “Why me?” Did I make jokes about how insane it was that a perfectly healthy person, who had never even been admitted into a hospital before, wound up with one of the most serious conditions you can get? Hell yeah I did. Some of the typical phrases I used were, “I can’t do anything simply.” or “Go big or go home.” Every time I was asked about previous medical conditions, my standard reply was, “Nope. Just brain cancer.” My tumor is also so rare that my husband loves to say, “I always knew you were one in a million.” (turns out I’m even more than one in a million, as approximately only 72 adults are diagnosed in the U.S. every year with my specific type and with all my factors.. yay me!)
I took on an unwavering positive attitude that I was going to beat this no matter what, and despite whether the end would come quickly or years and years from now, I would fight every single solitary day. I would never ever give up.
[SECOND DISCLAIMER: Another “hot topic” is the use of battle/war phrases to describe our cancer experiences. There is a school of thought out there that by using those terms “fight” and “giving up” it implies that those we’ve lost didn’t fight enough, or did give up. In no way do I believe that!!!]
So, I decided that Yes, this did happen for a reason. I came to grips with the fact that I very likely would never know that reason. I believe in God, and I do believe that throughout my life, every stage and every step has led to the here and now. While I am here, continuing to breathe, continuing to get up out of bed every day and face this, there is a reason. I mean, if there isn’t, then that REALLY sucks! All of this for nothin’????
So, while I harbor no ill will or judge those who feel differently, I don’t always feel that sentiment returned. I have actually had relatively confrontational exchanges with survivors who do not in any way see that there is a reason for this. In a circular-type argument though, those survivors tell me they have felt judged because they don’t embrace the notion “it happened for a reason.” Yet, in the same breath, they roll their eyes and make slightly nasty comments towards people like me who actually do feel there’s a reason. Hence, they’re sitting there complaining about being judged, as they’re looking me in the face judging me.
Again, I feel the way I feel. It’s my coping mechanism. So, along with that, I tend to distance myself from those who I feel judge my way of thinking/coping. I understand how they feel. Cancer is awful. It’s bullshit. It can kill us!!! However, if I’m going to walk along this Earth, for however long that may be, I’m going to continue embracing every moment and believe that Yes, there is a reason.
God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently, God thinks I’m a bad ass!