Cristina Rodriguez is a 31-year-old non-Hodgkin lymphoma fighter. It's not all that she is, but it's all she's focused on at the moment. Cristina's blog is called lymphomamaniac.
When something bad happens to us, who or what is to blame? It seems like there should always be something that caused it, therefore providing a way to fix or at least come to terms with it.
But, what if sometimes there's nobody to blame or no explanation? What then? These questions have been on my mind since this journey began. Apparently, I'm not the only one.
Facing my mother's guilt
Recently, my husband, mother and sister came up to Houston to visit with my father and I before I was admitted into the hospital for chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
My mother and I went off into a guest bedroom at my uncle's house, where we were staying, to get my CVC, or central venous catheter, covered up so it wouldn't get wet when I showered. This wasn't as easy as we thought, and my mother was having a hard time covering it up.
As we both started getting annoyed, she asked a question that alarmed me: "What did I do wrong?" I just stared at her because I knew what she meant. "Did I not breastfeed you long enough? I only did it for a week. Maybe I should've done it longer. I should've tried harder."
I couldn't believe that she was feeling this way. "Mom! You didn't do anything wrong. These things just ... happen," I replied. I felt like crying. I stopped talking so that I could swallow the knot that had formed in my throat.
She didn't say anything else and proceeded to finish covering my CVC. We both decided not to talk about it, but I knew she still felt like she was to blame. I knew nothing I could say would make her understand that none of this is her fault. I guess any mother would blame herself for their child's medical problems even if it's completely unfounded.
Just as my mother blames herself, I've wasted so much time trying to figure out what was to blame or at least to understand why this happened. Why me?
Sometimes cancer "just happens"
After much soul-searching, praying and screaming at God for being unfair, I still don't have the answers. Now, I've come to accept that I might not ever know the answers until I reach the gates of heaven and ask God.
When I first received my diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, my doctor knew what I was thinking. He looked me in the eye and said that they still didn't know what caused lymphoma -- or many other cancers. He told me that I hadn't done anything wrong and that these things "just happen."
This trial has awakened a deep-rooted passion for others, like myself, in desperate need of a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Before I knew nothing and cared not about it, but I now yearn to tell anybody who will listen about the immense need for donors.
I thank God for this. I don't blame Him or anyone else. I don't blame myself. I don't blame anything for what's happening right now. It's not about me. It's about the bigger picture. Perhaps the picture is too big for me to see right now.
I know I'm not perfect. I have my good days and my bad days. The bad days are full of worry and doubt, but that's only human.