I’ve been a childhood cancer “survivor” for 32 yrs. but did I survive it? I’m still dealing with the effects of the treatment, and it gave me PH and now heart failure. So what exactly did I survive? My illness just morphed into something else…a chronic illness. I’m not complaining even though it does sound like it. If I didn’t make it, I would have died at a very young age. I actually did die once. It was during a surgery, I became very hypokalemic and the surgeons told the staff to inform my family to call the priest to give me my last rights. I am not sure how old I was but I think I was four. I can remember “dying”. I was in the operating table. My eyes opened and I could see the surgeons, nurses, etc all looking at me. They were all gowned and gloved. I can still picture the room with all the sterilized shiny equipment. I began floating above my body but didn’t look at myself in the bed. I didn’t see any light but I just felt a signal that it wasn’t my time. I have no other memories of that day.
My grandma always talked to me about that day though. She said they called the priest to come. But she also called a Native American medicine man that she had been having me see as well. She wanted him there but he was out of town that day. She said that during the call he reassured her that I was going to be ok, that it wasn’t time. She was very upset but believed him. Next thing she knew, someone came out of the operating/recovery room and said I was doing well and asking for my grandpa (I was quite the grandpa’s girl)! Whenever my Grandma told me this story she would say how much of a miracle I am. A miracle…hmm I’m not sure about that. But I’m not sure I’m a “survivor” either. I’m just simply someone who has no other choice but to keep going. Putting one foot in front of the other, with a slower gait now, but I just keep going. I refuse to give up or give in to my struggles. I am not a quitter.