When I was first diagnosed with cancer I was never angry with God nor did I ever ask "why me?" However during my three-year battle with cancer and with the world of cancer I have come to ask "why me?" -- just in a different way.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, just months before, a girl in my church similar in age was also diagnosed with cancer. She went into remission around March 2010 and a few months later I followed with my declaration of remission. In mid 2011, as if it was meant to be synchronized, both our cancers relapsed. But our copy cat pattern stopped there when her cancer took over her body while I kept fighting my battle -- my first 'why me?'
It was another year until my cancer showed its nasty face one day when I was rushed to the hospital with water in my lungs and stomach, a high fever and a resting heartbeat of over 200.
In the hospital I had a roommate, Wendy (not her real name). We spent three weeks together, laughing, crying, refusing hospital food, vomiting, taking turns running high fevers and just being girls together. We became good friends and each time I returned for chemo we would try to request for our beds to be beside each other again. Fast forward six months and I'm in remission but Wendy is now on morphine and has lost the use of her legs. My second 'why me?'
The other week when I went in for my maintenance chemo the lady beside me had come in for a bone marrow biopsy for her relapsed lymphoma, a procedure I have had done three times. One minute she was quietly lying in her bed and the other she was screaming for the nurses to pull a tube out of her that helped drain out her urine. Her blood pressure dropped to 60 over 45 and nurses were desperate to find a healthy vein in order to inject the necessary medication. The oxygen tank she was on was pumped up to 10 and then you realized you could no longer hear her screaming. I couldn't help but think back to my own admittance to the hospital, also on an oxygen tank, with no healthy veins in sight and a tube to drain water from my lungs. I don't know how she is doing, as she was rushed off to ICU, unconscious, but that was another 'why me' moment.
Most recently I was told a friend's mother who had been battling breast cancer for many years is now in the hospital waiting to die. The doctors have given up treatment but so has her body and mind. I remember just two years ago when I was back in Canada for a visit when she squeezed my hand and told me to keep fighting and to trust God that all will be well. Less than two weeks ago, she passed away.
It's these stories and encounters that make me ask 'why me?' Why do I get to be in remission? Why do I get the extra days, weeks, years to live? Why do I come out of my bone marrow biopsy safely? Why does my cancer respond so well to treatment? Why is it that I have this blessing of health and not others?
I don't think there's a clear answer. There never is. But I do believe that one reason is for me to always remember and be thankful for what I do have, the days I have, the mobility I have, the health I have, though it may not be perfect. And to take this gratitude and live it out each day remembering the gift I've been given that could so easily be taken away.