• Does anyone here suffer from survivours guilt?

    Asked by nitronick on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Does anyone here suffer from survivours guilt?

    Hello everyone. Does any one here suffer from survivors guilt? I have a bad case of it. I have friends and their family who have died recently from cancer. And here I am in remission now. The feelings started quite some time ago as I felt all along I was a survivor in the making during treatment. But both patients I have befriend along the way and close friends family members have been dying around me. I feel a young mother of 2 is more worthy of healing. I feel low self esteem and very little self worth. I am seeking professional counseling now but wonder what all of you might think. Any ideas or thoughts are greatly appropriated in advance. Thank you.

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar

      Well first simply by your photo. Cat people are needed and wanted. I felt the same guilt..... did God get this wrong.... I'm almost 70 and 30 somthing dies..... But we know God does not make mistakes!!!! Say that 50 times!!!!! You yourself are valuable beyond all measure!!! I ended up writing a poem regarding this feeling. I hope it helps you!

      Why Me?
      by Carol Notermann

      The tech had said excuse me. I’ll be back in just a bit.
      I lay there with my hand in God’s, and hoped this wasn’t it.
      A man walked in “to take a look” and it was then I knew
      That this cancer that I feared, was now in my life too.

      “OH GOD! WHY ME? I’m so not brave.”
      I screamed inside my brain.
      My family, my life, came rushing by –
      Like a loud and speeding train.

      I turned to God, still holding tight the hand that held to mine.
      And then the Lord did answer; His answer was sublime.
      “WHY NOT?” He said - as he still held tightly to my hand.
      “I’ll never let you go! See there are my footprints in the sand.”

      And together we did walk through those next two busy years.
      He gave me a special doctor. A doctor without fears.
      I listened and followed the doctor. His smile was warming to see.
      He and the staff at that clinic, were smiling always at me.

      And soon came the words I had prayed for, the words that filled me with glee.
      “You Carol are a “survivor”. All tests show you’re still cancer free.”
      I smiled and I laughed and I hugged, this doctor who God blessed with skill.
      There are no good words to thank him, but I know in prayer that I will.

      Then my mind went to the others, the ones who fought till the end.
      They fought quietly, valiantly - then went home to the Lord in the end.
      “OH GOD! WHY ME?” Why have I been so blessed? Why me?
      “WHY NOT?” was His simple response, and His Glory was all I could see.

      over 3 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I understand what you mean. I feel guilty reading about some of the horrific side effects some people here have gone through when my side effects were very mild and things like nausea really didn't hit me. And I agree w/Carol -- your kitty needs you! My kitties need me! And I know Carol's kitties need here! : ) Sometimes you just have to go day by day, just like a 12 step program. I have low self esteem, too, but I try to find ways to boost it. Helping people out on this board actually helps me, too. I know I'm making a difference, if only for a few minutes. I also work in a customer service field, although no longer directly w/the public. But my efforts help make my company a more customer friendly place. It's little things like these that you need to hold on to. And remember -- just because you are still with us has absolutely no bearing on whether someone else makes it or dies -- there is no grand abacus saying there are only so many cancer survivors allowed in the world at one time. I know it can be hard. Please know I wish you all the best.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      Yes, I do have survivors guilt. I see a therapist and I am attending a summit for young adult cancer survivors which has a session about survivors guilt. I look forward to hearing what others have to say. It is not uncommon.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      I have some at times, but more commonly I have a why did this happen to me?

      I had a neighbor (she's still alive, she just moved away) that had metastatic osteosarcoma at the age of 17. She was told she was terminal, but she entered an experimental treatment that worked. She has cadaver bone in her let, and a big scar on her chest where they operated to get a piece of her lung (mets there). One of the things she was part of was a camp for kids with cancer. She showed me pictures and cried really hard when she told me how many of the kids she went to that camp with did not survive. And she asked what you're now asking, what makes me so special that I survived yet they died? She was telling me this 8 years after her treatment . I don't think the pain goes away, but it becomes more manageable. She's now a nurse, has a very nice boyfriend, and a good life. I wish the same happiness to you.

      over 3 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      Yes! A friend's husband passed away a few months after I was declared cancer-free. We had exchanged emails throughout because we were going through treatment at the same time. I was at work, at my new job when I read about his death. I felt like I was suffocating. I immediately texted a friend, another survivor who worked in the same complex, and begged her to take a walk because I needed to understand why we were survivors while other young people weren't as fortunate.

      No one knows why and we aren't meant to know why. But it's a horrible feeling. No matter how hard we try to figure it out and reason, we won't. You are certainly not alone. You are wise to seek counseling. I hope it helps you.

      over 3 years ago
    • Jodi's Avatar

      Hello. Yes, I have felt similar guilt. I won't go into the whole story but I had someone walk me thru what to expect when I was going thru treatment. Now I am in remission and she is not doing very well. I felt bad. I was also kind of scared to visit her. I can't explain why and... I felt horrible about it. I think I was more afraid to face what could have happened to me and, what still might. I finally kicked myself in the butt and stopped being afraid or feeling guilty. This person does not feel anything but happy for me so I need to step it up and support her in every way I can. I have visited her a few times and we laughed a lot. It was good for both of us. I give her little comfort gifts. I do not feel guilty anymore. Just fortunate that she came into my life and helped me when I was in need. Now.... I need to pay it forward. That is what she would like to see happen I am sure. .

      over 3 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      I do not. I sometimes wonder why or how I've survived but it is not my place to question why me and not someone else. It is my place to thrill and enjoy the gift of life which is mine. As you recover, this feeling will pass. Sickness makes one doubt oneself. You can miss others but there is no reason to not celebrate your recovery and constantly improving very good health. Be grateful. I hope you have a good therapist.

      over 3 years ago
    • liznparadise's Avatar

      I understand how you are feeling. I posted the same question when a good friend's son-in-law passed away. He was diagnosed shortly after I was and he had a wife and 2 young sons. My children are grown. I felt guilty too. But I baked cookies and took them to my friend's house. She had her grandsons there for a visit. I told her how I felt. She was so happy to see me and see me well that I had to give up the guilt. No one knows when our time will come. If I had died it would not mean that he would have lived. I now believe that i can best honor those who do not survive by living the best life that I can and to try to help others.

      over 3 years ago
    • warrior3's Avatar

      Yes, I do have those feelings of guilt. Funny, when I was diagnosed I never asked "Why me?" - I actually felt like "Why NOT me?" Yet now that I'm one of the lucky ones who is a survivor I wonder "Why me?"
      About 2 years after my treatments had ended my brother-in-law was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He and my sister-in-law came to stay with us so that he could be treated at the same cancer center that I had gone to for treatment. A year and a half later he had died. Those feelings of guilt were very strong, especially since we had encouraged him to come here for treatment. I'm glad you're seeing a counselor to help with your feelings. Just embrace the amazing good fortune that you've been given. I do that every single day and I really try to make the most of my time here on earth. I find I'm a kinder, gentler version of myself post-cancer and I like it :) Best of luck and congratulations on your good health - enjoy it, you deserve it!

      over 3 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar


      Thank you so much for sharing your question on survivor's guilt. It inspired us to write an article on Survivor's Guilt and Ways to Cope. Perhaps you will find it helpful if you are still struggling with these emotions.


      Hope all is well,

      almost 3 years ago

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