Remission and Guilt



A remission is a temporary end to the medical signs and symptoms of an incurable disease. A disease is said to be incurable if there is always a chance of the patient relapsing, no matter how long the patient has been in remission.


So the latest CT scan went well….very well in fact because the Doctor officially granted me REMISSION status! Yes…. Remission. As in, he doesn’t think that I have anything to worry about, that I will continue with my five year check-up routine but he isn’t expecting anything bad to come back. He put my chances at around 10% of reoccurrence. He told me to go celebrate life and not worry so much. I’m feeling so excited that I slept an extra three hours this morning to celebrate. I don’t know why (duh!) I get so stressed around check-up time that I don’t sleep and then after the appointment it’s like my body wants to catch up on all the sleep it missed in the stress up to the appointment. The fact I was feeling some strong pains in the last few months had me pretty convinced that the cancer had come back so to get the news that I’m clear has thrown me for a happy loop. So when do I catch up with the happy?

Because here’s the weird part. I’m thrilled to be sure. I mean, seriously, remission is the word most cancer patients want to hear about themselves and I’ve heard it. But I feel a little guilty, like, why me? Why do I get to be in remission and other people that I know are battling for their lives and don’t get the same news? I felt guilty putting the status up on Facebook. In fact, I knew I was in remission for several hours before I put it up on Facebook even though there were people waiting for the news. Because I feel guilty. I get to face a normal life now, pretty free from the fear of a reoccurrence and other people are being told that their cancer has gone to stage four and its terminal.

I’m not complaining. I don’t want the doctor to call me back and tell me he was messing with my mind, my cancer has actually grown to the next stage now. But it’s hard to deal with such good news and not feel bad for the friends and acquaintances that don’t get such words from their doctors. I know I should be breaking open the non-alcoholic fizzy wine that’s sitting in my fridge and drinking it straight from the bottle, but I really don’t want to. I’m sitting here in quietness of my family room, aware of how blessed I am. I don’t know how to celebrate life when I’m so guilty that for other people  it’s a daily struggle just to survive.

I know… I suck. My attitude sucks. My lack of celebration sucks. I’m so grateful that I get to face being a mother to Bronwen for a lot longer than the statistics had me believing. I get to do things with my life that I’ve always wanted to. I get to pretend I’m a writer for a lot longer! I wish I could just expel the other people from my mind and celebrate without thinking about them. I know that they wouldn’t begrudge me the news that I’m in remission. I’m sure they would celebrate my good news with open hearts. But I also know there would be a little part of them that would question, why not me? And why not them? Why do they face terminal and I get off ‘scott free.’ I think I had built myself up for a reoccurrence and it hasn’t happened and my head and heart are still catching up with the news.

Remission. It’s a strange beast.


One thought on “Remission and Guilt

  1. You are godly and compassionate. You are relieved for yourself, but still mourn for your friends who have to face bad news. You are an amazing woman and the BEST sister and aunt, and you own the complexity of your feelings. I wonder if those who survived fighting in the trenches etc felt a similar way.


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