• How do I stop feeling guilty?

    Asked by grandmajean5 on Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    How do I stop feeling guilty?

    The most difficult part of my journey was the 1st lumpectomy (I had 2) because of the drain I had for 2 weeks. Because of my onco dx score, I didn't need chemo. I had 33 radiation treatments. I have read a lot of posts on this site, which I read every day, and so many of you have gone through such difficult times, I can't stop feeling guilty that my journey was pretty easy. I had no real exhaustion with radiation, needing a nap only 4 days and not much burning until the last 4 days. I know my journey was easier in part because of the number of people who were praying for me but, as grateful as I am that it was fairly easy, I can't stop feeling guilty because of it. I'm not sure I could have handled some of the things a lot of you have gone through and I keep you all in my prayers. You are a very strong group. Any one else feel this way?

    24 Answers from the Community

    24 answers
    • Tracy's Avatar

      I have worked with a large number of friends who have done this fight. I have never had chemo thank heaven because of the type of cancer I had. My feeling guilty would never help them in their fight so I let that go, all I can do is help as I can by being there for them. No one has an easy journey with cancer, it is a life changing event but yes some people have an easier path. My response has been to take my experience and use it to help others. You choose the energy you keep, guilt is not a heathy energy. Let it go and use the energy in a better way - You are a strong survivor, your path felt easy because of that strength. Take care, Tracy

      over 3 years ago
    • fastdog's Avatar

      No, I don't feel this way. I've had some bad times, and for right now, some good times. But at least for myself, I can say I'm not envious when I hear that another cancer patient has received good news, or had a relatively easy time. If we can share in each other's pain (and we do), we can also rejoice in each other's success. Doesn't seem to me that you've had such an easy time, with 33 radiation treatments. Everything being relative, you've walked your mile, maybe it wasn't as hard as some, but surely it was hard. Cancer isn't a contest and nobody judges who had a bad time and who didn't; when we're strong, we hold out a hand to help, and when we're weak, we still hold out a hand to be helped. We're all in this together, although maybe at different levels on the see-saw at different times.

      over 3 years ago
    • bbay65's Avatar

      Yes, I have felt some guilt. So far my cancer has been managed w/ meds. My time will come when more is needed. I like the answers you received. We need to save our energy for stuff other than guilt. The see-saw analogy was spot on. So, you're not alone w/ these feelings.

      over 3 years ago
    • GypsyJule's Avatar

      Guilt is one of those emotions that we could all use a little less of in our lives. I hope you can release it, and enjoy your blessings. I have had those same feelings because I didn't have to have radiation. All of our journeys are different. There is no reason for guilt.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Guilt is a totally unnecessary emotion...it gets you nowhere and helps nobody! Do you really feel like you should have suffered more? I don't get that! NOBODY should have to suffer with cancer! Instead of sitting around, feeling "guilty", why not put your energy into HELPING OTHERS who are facing a fight with cancer? There are many opportunities for you to help at your oncologist's office, I'm sure. THAT would be worthwhile! Make some chemo caps, donate magazines you've already read, TALK TO PATIENTS. You could probably prove to be a valuable support to others, since you've been there already yourself. :-)

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      I went through something like this many, many years ago when a friend died way too young. Finally, someone got through to me (a stranger--isn't it almost always) who helped me see that I had no control over his death, did not contribute to it nor could have prevented it. That I don't have a dog in any fight actually unless I directly cause it.

      If your journey seems to be easier than others, that's just the way it is and you can't do anything about it. Guilt is a waste of time in this situation as you had absolutely nothing to do with bringing the cancer onto yourself. Save the guilt feelings for when you actually do something wrong (if you do something wrong that is--grin--).

      over 3 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      GrandmaJean, I do know that there have been others that have talked about this before, it's a somewhat common thing. For me, I have never felt that, I haven't had an easy go of it though, but coming from someone who has had a rough go, I don't think bad of you or anyone else for having an easy time of it. I am thrilled for you, you should be celebrating and enjoying life to it's fullest, *because* you had an easy time.
      And as clyde said, if you desire, give back to others by helping some on the site. Or volunteer for Relay, whatever suits you, but please don't think that those of us, any of us, who have had a rough time would want you to be anything but happy!

      Enjoy your new life!!

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      While it's normal for you to feel guilty, your feeling is entirely unwarranted. Consider that it would have been a lot "easier" if you hadn't gotten cancer at all. People without cancer don't feel guilty, right? Neither should you. I mean this sincerely. I agree with the others that it may be therapeutic for you to channel this emotion into supporting others who are having a rough time.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Its your journey.....you don't need to apologize for what Tx you had or didn't have....but I understand what you are feeling...survivor guilt.....not productive!!!! In some ways I feel that way relative to friends who have LE or are stage 4...but I try not to let it consume me or take much if any energy out of my life.....We all go through our own journeys...easy or hard, out journeys are our journeys.....Celebrate yourself :)

      over 3 years ago
    • rmh's Avatar

      put the guilt shoes away and praise the lord for the medical professionals who have researched our cancers and made chemo and radiation more tolerable for those of us who have to be on this cancer train....there's nothing to feel guilty about...p.s. I have stage 1b uterine cancer and right now am starting my first radiation treatment Monday, so I know how you feel but when I tell people they feel sorry for me and I'm like 'i'm not a victim, i'm one of the lucky ones and i'm grateful'....xoxo for a great day for you.....

      over 3 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I totally understand. Even though I'm diagnosed stage IV, my endometrial cancer metastisized to the fat layer over the abdominal organs, so according to my surgeon (who is the head of oncology @ my hospital), he got ALL the cancer out. I know others w/stage IV have mets that go to the lungs or brain or other really nasty places. I also suffered very few of the nastier side effects from chemo -- very little nausea, no mouth ulcers, I could eat w/no problems. Just leg pain for a few days after a treatment, neuropathy and hair loss, w/occasional chemo brain & fatigue. Nothing debilitating. And I read about some of the trials that other WhatNexters go through. And sometimes I do feel guilty. But I didn't give these folks cancer, nor did I dictate what kind of side effects they might go through. What I can do is help them out on this site. Even if I didn't have that particular symptom or have that kind of cancer or get a terminal diagnosis, I can still empathize w/those who do face these things. And some things are universal regardless of type of cancer -- emotional things, practical things (what to take to 1st chemo, etc). It makes me feel like I'm helping others here, sorta paying forward to those who helped & continue to help me.

      over 3 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      As I have told others here, I also used to feel "guilty" because my journey seemed less traumatic than others I have met...however, it slowly began to dawn on me that we are ALL survivors and the path to survivorship is different for everyone...some take a straighter road, and some have many twists and turns but we all end up at the same place...we also ALL heard the words "you have cancer" at the start of our journey and the emotions that causes are pretty universal...so like me, rejoice (I also had two lumpectomies, radiation, AIs for 5-10 years)...I wish you good luck and God bless"

      over 3 years ago
    • grandmajean5's Avatar

      I want to thank everyone for your responses, they definitely helped m. e put things into perspective. Volunteering is something I'm already looking into. I had made some chemo hats when I was diagnosed thinking I'd need chemo and I love to knit. I plan on making more and donating them to my local chemo center.

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      Do not feel guilty -- just feel blessed. We are family on here and we all have "cancer" in common. However, each person's journey is different -- some may have more challenges but we are all given what we can handle. Take care and enjoy life!!!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Please do not feel guilty. We all have different burdens to bear! I had to have 4 rounds of chemo but no radiation! Treatment is different for each one of us. I know this will sound crazy to some of you but having had cancer has been a blessing! It has made me a better person and I have found some of the most wonderful people ever. This website is such a blessing. Everyone here is in my prayers and that means you too! Hugs!

      over 3 years ago
    • savingrace's Avatar

      Even though guilt is sometimes a normal feeling but most times unneeded. You should not feel guilty for NOT experiencing what someone else has experienced. Take your experience as a blessing for you to be able to encourage someone who may have just been diagnoised and wondering what to expect. There is a reason why we go through the things we go through, it is up to us to be able to use our experiencing, whether good or bad, for the good. I too read the comments of pain, emotional drainage, sickness, etc that some others have gone through or going through, and I just thank God I didn't have enough problems to even complain about when I was going through my journey. So I take others and the little of mine to try to help someone else. Stop feeling guilty and use your experience to aid others.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      grandmajean...to feel guilty is one of the normal reactions... it is called survivors guilt and anyone who has been through a serious situation and gets through when others didn't, feels some of this. But, to focus on something more worthwhile here is what I've learned: You are here for a purpose, you must live that purpose everyday.. continue to give grandmajean to the world to everyone around you and your purpose will become apparent. I enjoy helping others more now than ever, I feel grateful every day to be able to cook someone dinner (which is a gift, since I love to cook and they love it), meet someone for a talk or give a shoulder to cry on. Before this journey, I had no time for just being a good friend, etc. ..this has made me stop and enjoy life more. So enjoy, volunteer, be a good friend, learn new things, plant a garden, make bread from scratch, make homemade jam...whatever you think you may enjoy...do it! We'll feel your joy!

      over 3 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      I feel guilty because I put us back into debt. We finally got out of debt, on a fixed income, and things were going great. Then I got cancer. Now we are so far in debt we are having to look at filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because we can pay our medical bills. That is some heavy guilt on my part because it is all my fault.

      over 3 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Yes, it is not weird to feel guilty because you think you "got off easy". The truth is, none of this is easy - whatever stage we are, whatever the course of treatment is, the reality is the same. We have cancer. The emotional part is the same for all of us - in that we are banded together, warriors, brothers and sisters. Each individual journey is unique and we all take them one step at a time. But in spirit, in experience, in survivorship, we share a common bond, one that only a survivor can claim. Perhaps the guilt you feel can be put to a good purpose to help someone whose journey is more difficult. Perhaps your strength can be shared with someone whose journey has weakened her. Perhaps there is someone who needs you to be strong, so that's why you were not made weak by your journey. There are reasons for everything. Be thankful, stay hopeful, and know that your guilt doesn't really help anyone, so lose it! Your strength, on the other hand, may be just what's needed to help someone else and maybe that's why you have it.

      Fight On,

      over 3 years ago
    • Nellie's Avatar

      YESSS!!! I feel like my journey was less than what other's go thru!!! I did have lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Tomorrow I am going to the Reach to Recovery training to volunteer to talk with other women who are newly diagnosed. I am looking forward to this and I hope I can help at least one woman thru this journey. Hang in there it will get better!!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      Yes, I absolutely feel this way. I had a lumpectomy, re-excision and radiation - nothing near what other folks have gone through. It breaks my heart when I read other people's stories. I also feel the same in that I don't know if I could have handled what some folks have gone through. I'm just trying to help others as much as I can. I have volunteered for Relay for Life and for a group called Necessities Bags (www.necessitiesbag.org). And I thank God every day.

      Nonnie917, did you see the question from BabyGirl about finding financial assistance? She got several responses from folks. Maybe one could be helpful to you...?

      over 3 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      Bug. I did see the answer and I am going to start working on it on Monday. Thank you,

      over 3 years ago
    • MarianneT's Avatar

      Do not feel guilty, just embrace the blessings you have. I too feel guilty once in awhile. I had bi-lateral mastectomy, and chemo and I do feel very, very lucky. When I have bouts of guilt I try to focus my thoughts on things I can do to prevent a recurrence, eat healthy, exercise and maintain a good body weight (this last being quite a challenge for me) as I almost feel that it is my obligation to do so and for being so fortunate. I also do a lot of volunteer work which tends to help me feel better about it. Good luck to you and again there is nothing wrong with you counting your blessings.

      over 3 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar


      Thank you for being open and reaching out to WhatNexters about guilt. Questions about "survivor's guilt" are common on the site so we recently posted an article on 15 ways to cope. If you are still struggling with these feelings, perhaps you will find it helpful.


      Hope all is well,

      almost 3 years ago

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