I am ten years post my life-changing cancer diagnosis.  I am so,so very grateful I lived to raise my kids to adulthood…they were 10 and 11 when I was diagnosed and are now productive adult members of society.  They need me much less than they did then, and for that I am grateful.  I am not as central in their lives now, and for me that is a good thing. I celebrated vs. dreaded their leaving the nest…it was a gift for them to leave me and not for me to leave them.  My perspective is different than most parents.

Tonight I went to the Caring Bridge site of an appendix cancer patient I’ve followed for a few years.  We’ve communicated on and off for several years, but not recently.  She also had signet ring appendiceal cancer and had been through 2 HIPEC procedures..with recurrences following both.  I learned she died last month at the age of 33.  So young.  I’ve developed friendships with several appendix cancer patients who have lost their battles in the end.  I had a close friend my age, also a nurse, who was in med school and doing well.  She had a lower grade appendix cancer than I had and so much to live for…she also lost her battle a year ago.  I had another appendix cancer friend from the Philippines who had only been married for 5 years and who had two very young children…she also lost her battle.  We were close, we communicated frequently even as she was dying.  She sent me gifts that to this day I value.  I think of her every time I look at them.  I’ve lost many friends.  I don’t know why I survived and they didn’t.  When I finally get to heaven, there are so many I want to meet and spend time with.  I wish things had turned out differently.  But I also know of many survivors, like myself.

I was researching survivor guilt on wiki tonight.  I feel badly that I survived when others haven’t, but I don’t think I have survivor guilt.  During the sermon at my church today,they spoke of a woman who experienced the terrible poverty of those she met in Africa while on a mission trip. She said she didn’t feel guilty for her relative wealth at home,though…it was a gift from God. But she said she knew how important to her to be grateful for that gift.  I think I’m much the same….and I think I need to use the gift given to me to help others.  I do try.  I’m not interested in Facebook on a personal level, but my website designers created a Facebook page for my Appendix Cancer Connection organization, and it has become a support group of sorts for those diagnosed, for which I am very grateful. You can check it out at Appendix Cancer Connection Facebook.

Just for fun, this funny youtube clip was presented at my church today (the topic today was gratitude)….and I could totally relate, I grew up with the black rotary phones!  I also still always request a window seat on flights…I still feel the “wow” factor when I see the clouds and our country from the air!  Check it out: Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy, it will make you smile!!  We have so much to be grateful for!