Something I see a lot of people doing when something bad happens to them is asking, “Why me?”
Long before I ever learned I had cancer I had resolved if anything bad ever happened to me, I would not go there –to the “Why me?” pity place.
I always thought, “How presumptuous can a person be to ask that question? What, did you think when you were born you’d get special privileges that would exempt you from suffering life’s tragedies just like everyone else?”
Yes, I always felt it was an extremely arrogant and self-centered question. And, should something horrendous ever happen to me, it wouldn’t even be worth whispering those words.
And I didn’t –not once at any stage in the “Oh shit, I have cancer!” process did I ever go there. I wasn’t even tempted.
However, ever since I’ve survived the Black Cloud’s wrath I find myself asking a “Why me?” question nonetheless. It goes a little something like this: Why did I survive when others don’t?
For example, the other night we watched the Survivor season finale. During the reunion portion of the show they paid tribute to former Survivor Jenn Lyon who died of cancer earlier this year. She was only 37.
Wayne immediately dove for the remote wanting desperately to change the channel. But he was too late. I saw it. Images of the beautiful young woman who once upon a time purposely subjected herself to enduring the elements for 39 days (if she could make it that far) with perfect strangers in a quest for a million dollar prize.
I tried and tried to hold back my tears, to not react the way I always do when I learn of a fellow cancer soldier losing his or her battle with the disease. Mostly I tried to put on a brave face because I knew Wayne would beat himself up for not having changed the channel fast enough to spare me from seeing it.
It’s his way of protecting me. I love him for it.
I could almost feel him holding his breath as he waited for the inevitable: the deluge that always follows. But, as it always does, it finally came.
And with it so did my string of “why” questions: Why her? Why not me? Why am I still here? Why are some cured and others aren’t? Why was I so lucky?
Then we had to staunch the flow of panic that also accompanies these events when I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have had 16 months, two weeks, and a day more with Wayne than I could have had if the alternative had happened.
I know I’ll never have an answer to any of my questions. I’m not sure I’d really want to know the answer anyway. But this is what I do know:
I know I’m here thanks to many factors: the scientists and researchers who invented the treatments that saved my life, those patients who went before me to perfect the treatments, the doctors and nurses who know how to correctly administer them, friends and family who lent their strength, support and comfort when mine was weak, and even my own Life Force willing me not to go out just factored in.
Most of all I know the “Why not me?” feelings I have is survivor’s guilt.
I know all of that, but it’s never enough to keep me from wondering it anyway.
Blessings to you and your life, Jenn Lyon. You accomplished whatever you were put here for faster than those who loved you would’ve preferred. I hope their memories of you provide comfort as they mourn your passing.