I’m a proud Mankato native. I am retired from a career in non-profit fundraising and marketing. My husband and I have 4 kids and 4 grandchildren. I’m 11 years cancer free.
From the beginning, I didn’t want to hear the words “fight” or “battle” – we were referring to my body, after all. I have never wanted to flaunt the pink ribbon. I’ve never walked the walks, passed the hat or wore the t-shirt. In my mind, I was lucky. I had no chemo. No radiation. Sure, I lost a couple of the “girls” but I was able to have them reconstructed. It took a few surgeries and 7 months of trips to and from Rochester, but I still had everything I needed and wanted at the end of it all. I was simply grateful.
I’ve learned in the last 11 years that the feelings of luck and gratefulness, can also be wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s called Survivor’s Guilt. When I see the intensely difficult journeys experienced by others dealing with a cancer, the pangs of guilt are consuming. So I don’t wear the pink or walk the walk – because I feel guilty. Ultimately, it seems my truth is that cancer has, indeed, inflicted its scars on me, in that I live with the guilt of my own perceived ease of my journey and my ultimate survival.
Which brings me to why I’m here. Because someone I love asked me to be a volunteer Blingo caller for her worthy cancer fundraising event. And while she knows I can’t resist a chance to be on stage, this opportunity has helped me realize that I need to share that it’s ok to feel guilty. It’s okay to feel blessed. And it’s okay to wear pink. Because I, too, am a cancer survivor.