A man sits with his dog facing a sunset

Another Goodbye

Saying goodbye is so hard. You are never really prepared for it. I learned this as a TYA (teenage young adult) with cancer.

Suddenly, with blood cancer, you are thrown into a world where more people die than average too young. And you know them. It’s hard.

Saying goodbye

It doesn’t get easier. But you become numb to it. You don’t cry as much. You take a deep breath. Shrug your shoulders. Exhale. And move on.

Because you can’t get too caught up in it. In the fact they have died. They are dead. And you aren’t.

Survivors guilt

The one thing that you aren’t warned about. There isn’t a section in the information booklets on this. It comes out of nowhere. And to begin with, you don’t even know what it’s called. How to deal with it. How to process it. Because everything is still so raw.

And then time passes and it has a name. A label. And then you can begin to process. To understand. To know why you feel so f**ing awful for being alive.

When they aren’t.

Feeling guilty for being alive

But you also don’t want to die. You are relieved and pleased you aren’t dead. That it’s them and not you.

So you feel guilt.

Guilt for being alive.

Losing my furry companion

And not long ago there was another goodbye. My lovely brown eyed boy. Who came into my life because of cancer. He was my shadow. At my side. And now he’s gone. And it broke my heart. We thought we had longer with him. It was so sudden. Home is a bit quieter. A bit emptier.

I don’t know where survivors guilt has come from in this post. He was a dog, he didn’t have cancer. And I don’t feel guilty for still being alive. Maybe I feel guilty for not spending more time with him over the last year. Our baby took so much of my attention. And then getting a puppy.

But he knew how much I loved him. I had time with him on the floor in the lead-up to his going.

I’m still processing.

His needs kept me going

He taught me that I would go out whatever the weather. No matter how bad my fatigue was. He had his long walk. He was a Labrador. He needed exercise. I wasn’t going to let him get fat. That’s not fair. I wouldn’t let that happen to an animal because of me. Not on my watch.

And so we walked the pavements of London. He got me to love going for a walk. He got me up and out.

And for that I will be forever grateful.

My dog was my therapy

And once again. I wouldn’t change my diagnosis. Without it, I would never have known him. Would never have experienced the love for that face. That wagging tail. That weight on my chest as we cuddled on the sofa. That knowing look the moment we were alone that he could get up on the sofa. And the bed. For cuddles.

Because he knew how much I needed it. Those were awful days of fatigue. Debating about green lighting a stem cell transplant for quality of life. Because of fatigue.

And now he’s gone. And I’m sad. I’m sad our baby girl didn’t have longer with him. I’m sad my shadow has gone. But I’m also happy that he had time with me being chemo free. Being fatigue free. And he was there through my pregnancy protecting me. He was there when we brought our baby girl home. And he guarded her when she was tiny.

I’m trying to think of an eloquent way to wrap this up. But my mind is drawing a blank. It wasn’t a cancer death. There is no survivors guilt. But there is a hole in my heart.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.