On Monday, I had my usual monthly review with my Consultant. I have always thought that these meetings may be too frequent, but the professionals are right, and generally there is something that has occurred since the last meeting, and will need correcting. More medication,and different blood tests.
It is always a good opportunity to catch up with my fellow patients, and staff. Also, if I didn’t visit the pharmacy for my drugs, they would wonder what had happened to me! A lot of the staff in my hospital, read my blog, and I am often told, that they learn so much from it. On this visit I was approached by a senior health professional, who wanted to chat.
He mentioned that he personally, was learning a lot from my writing, and felt that the N.H.S in general, was not really taking the benefits of social media seriously. Although he agreed that neither he or his colleagues, used it, or knew much about it. I was explaining how people around the world were interested in reading about the highs and lows of my life with cancer. I explained how my own case, could give people hope. He understood exactly, the benefits of my blog.
My case is very unique, starting with a rare diagnosis, then followed by many ongoing complications. I have had, and continue to have, many surprises along the route, but as he pointed out, the biggest of all is that I am still in remission, after 6 years!
As some of you will know, I have recently lost some friends, just after they had received their stem-cell transplants, and have others that are struggling with their health since, and I mentioned those people. As I always say, the difficulty with cancer and it’s treatment is that they are very individual. One person’s experience, although useful, is not necessarily a guide, as to how your own process will go.
I was then asked if I was a ‘guilty survivor?’ It was the first time I had heard that expression, but I do think about things like that frequently. Apparently it is a well know issue, and affects a lot of people. This really set me thinking! Personally I don’t consider that I am, but I do often wonder, how I am still here, and others, whose cases seemed more straight forward than mine, are not.
“Why me?” is a question that is often asked, both by people who have been diagnosed with cancer, or people who are surviving, when others don’t. I have never asked why I got the disease, but I do often wonder, how I have made it this far, when the odds were stacked against me. However I wouldn’t say that I felt guilty about it.
Until, I was told that this is a common issue, I can’t really say that I have encountered many people who outwardly feel like that. I suppose it is possible that people don’t discuss it. The many people that I am in contact with, all seem very aware of their individual situation, and we all hope that each other do as well as possible. We know what may happen, to any of us, but I would be surprised if anyone suffered from guilt.
This was one of the very few visits to hospital that I have had where a professional has had time to discuss some of the ‘grey areas’ around my case. These are the issues that can make so much difference, to people holistically. Having said that I had felt guilty for taking up a bit of time! I couldn’t help feeling that if professionals managed to find some time to get to know us better it might help us all. Time seems to be our modern day enemy.
Are you, or do you know a ‘guilty survivor?’
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.