“All that I do is survive because surviving is my only option…”
What does survivorship mean to me? It is nearly impossible for me to write this essay, to answer this question.
I haven’t survived cancer, I am still going through treatment. While I am living with cancer I still fear the mutinous cells that are part of my body, trying to steal my very life from me. I am unable to think back on any of my treatment, surgeries or diagnosis without sobbing. It hurts to think about surviving because I am so weak. I am terrified to dream of surviving because, what if… ? Right now, surviving is being able to walk to the couch. It’s leaving the house without hyperventilating or throwing up. It’s going through the day without crying. It’s putting on a brave face for others even when I feel I am crumbling apart inside. Is living day to day not enough? Is just living surviving?
If I can live to see my cousin graduate high school that would be enough. If I can live long enough to see my brother find his faith that would be enough. If I can live long enough to have a life that would be enough. This essay seems hopeless, ridiculous; how can I think of surviving when I feel like giving up? I have to borrow others strength just to get through one day. I haven’t been able to write one of these sentences without crying. All that I do is survive because surviving is my only option, even though I feel that I am stuck in a purgatory of vomit, pain and disease.
Survivorship is difficult to write about because I am not guaranteed a life beyond cancer.
I am surviving every day; minute-by-minute, bathroom trip by bathroom trip, meal by meal, pill by pill, shower by shower, hospital stay by hospital stay. I am not able to think of my life before cancer or my future, with or without cancer, because if I do I will become stuck in those moments. I need to live now, in this moment, to make it to the next moment, and the next, and the one after that. Just living is surviving when you have cancer.
And one day, after ticking off more moments, more triumphs, less pain, less purgatory, I will begin to dream again. Dream, not just hope for those moments, and to actually live in them, to feel them. I will see my triumphs and my strength and prove to myself, to my family, my friends, my doctors, and to cancer, that I am survivor!
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