Sometimes I think survivors guilt is the wrong terminology. When a group of army buddies are caught in battle and only a couple survive, the guilt that those soldiers feel is real. They come home feeling like they should have died with their buddies on the battlefield.
In my travels and especially due to the fact that I am a musician, I have been able to participate in many cancer benefits. The hardest ones are always the children. Seeing children dying of cancer when they haven't started living yet is hard. Seeing a young mother in her mid 30s with two small children and stage 4 breast cancer is hard. Telling her to stay positive sounds hollow as she endures treatment after failed treatment. She knows that her children will grow up and she won't be there to see it. Only the most jaded among us cannot be affected by her bravery! Watching our friends die because no treatment worked for them while we have reaped the benefits of multiple successful treatments is hard.
Tony Crispino's motto is stay positive. Jordan's motto was live thrive survive and my motto " live it loud " are all really positive statements but the fact is that although we want to convey that message of hope and we pray the treatments are successful 50% will fall below the median life extension and 50% will exceed it. A small percentage will exceed it many times over.
I do not feel guilty for surviving. I feel righteous anger that others did not. I feel compassion fatigue each time a new guy comes aboard with late stage disease and a poor prognosis. I want to encourage and give hope. Sometimes the results are positive and sometimes not. The higher the Gleason score the harder it becomes to give encouragement. We make friends only to lose them. In the process, a hardening of our hearts occurs. It is a defense mechanism. It is natural. It is necessary.
Yesterday, for me, was a very bad day. I lost a friend I had never met. I felt a kinship with Jordan. Our diagnosis was very similar. We shared the same positive outlook. We exchanged a few emails. We talked a few times. I believed he would do well. He didn't and now he is gone. Why??? Why did he fulfill my original prognosis while I have exceeded all expectations? Not Guilt! Just heart wrenching sadness. He, I believe, is in a better place. My tears are for his family and for myself!
In society we must give everything a name. In the process we marginalize and cheapen what it really is. It is love and it goes beyond cancer and beyond the grave.