Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

Despite how well I have been feeling of late, I cannot help feeling guilty.  Yes, I have survivor’s guilt.

2015 has been particularly difficult.  Whether it has been through social media or the evening news, we continue to hear about the tragic stories of those newly diagnosed.  And just during the  past couple of months alone, the Connecticut brain tumor community has lost two courageous warriors.  Through my involvement with the CT Brain Tumor Alliance, I am surrounded by stories of heartbreak and triumph.  Recently, I told you about Martin and Candice, two individuals who I had met through my involvement with this organization and I am proud to say that I live a better life because of the two of them.   With a smile always on their face, they never allowed their diagnosis to bring them down.  Unfortunately, both lost their battles to their horrific disease.  Yet, I am still here.

I wish life were different.  The questions haunt me: why does someone with a benign tumor like the one I had, have such a different recovery and prognosis than I?  Why was my tumor benign while another person’s was cancerous?  I wish I had answers to these questions and as to why I am okay compared to others.  However, these are questions which nobody can, or ever will, be able to answer.  My pain and sadness for the victims and their loved ones makes me want to fight harder for them.  I often remind myself how lucky I am, but it does not take away the somber reminder of those who are less fortunate.  I am attempting to turn my tragedy into a positive.  If nothing else, it has allowed me to gain an entirely new perspective on life and what is truly important.

My role as a Director of the CTBTA becomes that much more important to me and I feel the pride when the Board goes to the various hospitals and research centers to present checks.  These monies are used to better assist research and treatments; to allow children to get into MRI machines without being scared; and providing for patient-assistance funds.  The opportunities that the hospitals are to present from our hard work brings a smile to my face, providing reassurances that I am taking part in a greater change for something good.

Nonetheless, I am quite certain that I will always be haunted by survivor’s guilt.  Saying goodbye to an acquaintance with this diagnosis will get harder and harder.   However, I believe that the best way to honor those who have passed from this disease is to continue fighting in their honor.  To try to bring something good out of this experience.  So when I hear about someone with a more difficult prognosis than myself, I will always be reminded by a sense of gratitude from my recovery and how far I have come to fight on in the memory of those who have passed.

4 thoughts on “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables”

    1. Thanks Heather. Candice and I met via social media initially and I had the great fortune and privilege of meeting her at one of the CT Brain Tumor Alliance events. She was an avid promoter of my advocacy efforts and supporter of my concert. I am sorry for our loss as well, but know that we are honoring her in the best way possible. We must keep fighting!

  1. I also had a benign brain tumor, but my ordeal only lasted a month (including recovery). Thank you for sharing. I find it comforting to know there are others experiencing and dealing with the same survivor’s guilt that I feel.

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