I remember similar feelings after my open-heart surgery. Except that time I had a house full of babies, and the only thing I really could do was get back into the thick of being Mommy. Plus, there was no sense of being part of something bigger than myself. Apparently heart disease is a big problem for women, but I literally knew of no other young mothers whose hearts had failed due to a birth defect. While I certainly had a new appreciation for life, I was an army of one. There was no one to rescue, no new generation that needed saving.
And while I have no delusions of changing the world, I do feel enlisted - into what I'm not sure. I just know I have a sense that I need to do something worthwhile with this experience--something that will have made it worthwhile. At times I feel like the old me is emerging - but then I notice the hair in wrong places, the odd bumps and lumps, the aches, and worries about those aches, and realize that the old me is gone for good.
I've done little things like change my car. The new hairdo is a given. But the biggest changes are yet to come - like the question of where we'll choose to live out the rest of our days. And what I'll finally decide to be when I grow up. It's a big question and I don't have an answer yet.
But there's another question that maybe you all can help me with: what do I call myself? My blog has me listed as a "cancer warrior". That felt right at the time I wrote it. But every soldier reaches a point when the heavy fighting is over, and they have to retreat and lick their wounds. That's me now. Still a fighter, but no longer a warrior.
The accepted term these days is 'survivor'. And maybe that's what I'll use. But it brings to mind a half-starved person strewn on a desert island. I heard of one lady who calls herself a 'thriver'. I liked that, and maybe I'll use it. But Rob gave me a thumbs down. There's always 'victim'. Ha. As if. Maybe 'Cancer Conquerer'? I've always liked 'Conquistador'. That was the mascot of the high school I was supposed to attend in California--before my parents stole my whiny teenage self to Utah. (For those of you who have read Where Hearts Prosper, that happened to be the mascot of Paige's high school as well.) Anyway, back to my dilemma, 'conquistador is a bit of a mouthful, and little pompous. I've thought of 'Cancer Advocate', but pretty much anybody could call themselves one of those.
So there you have it - I started to set up a poll, but that got way too technical. So if you'll just go to comments and tell me your favorite for my new title? Or give me a new idea?
Here are the choices: survivor, thriver, conquerer, conquistador, advocate.
And maybe after I get that figured out I can start working on that big question of what I want to be when I grow up.
UPDATE: Since comments don't always make it through (I had to tighten things up to stop the flow of junk comments) I wanted to add that there have been to votes for the new suggestion of 'cancer champion', in addition to the to votes for warrior and one very persuasive vote for conquistador. Keep 'em coming! =)