• Guilt

    Asked by Kathy on Tuesday, March 12, 2013


    Sometimes I can feel guilty about not being able to help others - especially to those that helped me and now may need my help. Between finishing chemo and being back to work and trying to do the best with myself and household I can feel overwhelmed as it is. But at the same time it makes me feel selfish. Any advice or even empathy out there? Thank you.

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • CAS1's Avatar

      you have my empathy..I want to do more too but I know that I will when I am ready. Go easy on yourself you will know when the time is right.

      over 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      How did yo handle this before cancer? We all have times when we feel pulled in many different directions and have to say no sometimes, whether we have had cancer or not. So whatever worked for you in the past, should still work for you now.

      over 3 years ago
    • GypsyJule's Avatar

      You have my empathy as well! I have those same thoughts, that I really want to be more helpful to others, to give back to those that helped me so much. That being said, I'm still tired. I let everything slack while going through treatments, and now I'm in this catch up mode, but I know I also have to take care of myself. I hope that as time goes on, I'll feel better and be able to see how I can best help those who helped me. I am planning a party next month and will invite the family and friends who helped me through this journey.

      over 3 years ago
    • Tracy's Avatar

      I completely understand what you are saying. All you can do is take things step by step and take care of yourself. It takes time to recover from this fight and guilt takes your energy. Know that if you give yourself the time to recover (this takes more time than just finishing chemo) you will have the ability to do more. Think of this like recovering from battle, you are emotionally and physically recovering. Don't push yourself to be super human, just human is more than anyone can expect. It will get easier, Tracy

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Kathy,

      Hi, I'm Aliza, a BC patient and a Medical Librarian (retired).

      Guilt is understandable as a response to not being able to help out those who've helped you in the past. But honestly, if you step back and imagined someone else in your place, you wouldn't really expect her to repay all the kindnesses she'd received in the situation in which she's (you're) now in? You need to learn to be kinder to yourself. Guilt is sometimes a cultural imposition (I know...;)), but more it's a choice. You can learn not to feel guilty about not being able to repay someone right now for a kindness. That doesn't mean you'll never be able to repay them, just not at this moment.

      Being kind to yourself or true to yourself or honoring your self means right now assessing where you are (illness/recovery/survivor-wise) and learning to live with that. Living in the now (Zen style). Of course none of us want to have cancer and want to live in the future, or past, but we can't escape Now!

      There's a great book I'm going to recommend for you that I just finished called "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips" by Kris Carr and Sherryl Crow. I just finished it and am onto the sequel which is "Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor" by Kris Carr. Reading these books will (in all likelihood) make you feel better. They contain suggestions on how to create your own support team.

      There's also something I'm going to recommend for you on the lighter side (I was a Public Librarian as well) and that's an online bookgroup called www.goodreads.com. If you're not up for an outside bookgroup or there's none near you, this is a virtual one where you can track your books, search for titles, join small genre bookgroups, make virtual friends, and read others' reviews. If you're into books (it's hard for a librarian to conceive of people who aren't...;)), you'll enjoy this!

      I hope you understand that I'm saying you should concentrate on you-you should also consider telephoning CancerCare. The Oncological Social Workers there are great-they deal only with Cancer patients and their caregivers-it's not like "regular therapy". They don't care about your "toilet training" and they "don't blame your mother"...;) It's something to look into that also might help you feel better.

      Anything that helps you feel better is a worthwhile endeavor because your immune system responds to that as well...

      If I can suggest any other things for you or you need help researching anything -even medical stuff, I'm happy to help.

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Hugs, I know how you feel. You are not being selfish. You need to love and be kind to yourself, take the best care of you first. This is the only way you will be able to have the physical time and energy to help others.

      over 3 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      I think that without realizing it...your post probably did just that. You demonstrated some post treatment conundrums that you face, and this will help others to know that when they experience this; they know that you have taught them that it does not mean they are selfish. It means that they must gain their own footing before they are stable enough to support another. You should feel no guilt, you did achieve what you desired. Through your post, you may have helped more than you realize. Good job, Carm RN.

      over 3 years ago
    • mardeerpark's Avatar

      Hi, Kathy. Being there to help you get through it also helped everyone who loves you, don't you think? MaryAnn

      over 3 years ago
    • derbygirl's Avatar

      Try not to feel that way. I'm sure your friends and family know what you have been through and understand that right now you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes just letting them know you are thinking about them and praying for them is all they need to hear. Maybe just writing them a note telling them your thinking about them will make a world of difference. Go easy on yourself and realize that you need to get yourself healthy before you can be there for others. Take care

      over 3 years ago
    • Kathy's Avatar

      Thank you all so much for responding. You are all great and so comforting to me.

      over 3 years ago
    • Donna1943's Avatar

      No need to feell guilty at all. You have a lot on "your plate." Good to share your feelings.

      over 3 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar


      Hope all is well. Thank you for sharing your question on guilt. This is a common subject on the site, especially questions about Survivor's guilt. We posted an article this week about ways to cope with feelings of guilt after cancer treatment. Perhaps you will find it helpful if you are still struggling with these emotions.


      Best wishes,

      almost 3 years ago

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