• survivor's guilt

    Asked by Chemobrain35 on Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    survivor's guilt

    I am at the point where I am wondering why i did so well through chemo and want to know why am I lucky enough to continue my life when so many don't get that chance. Am I wasting a gift if I just go on with my life like nothing has happened? What kind of example am I setting for my girls if I just go back to how life was before? What do I do now?

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Interesting philosophy in a couple of ways. I guess I tend to take a wider view and consider life itself a gift whether cancer has been part of that life or not. Many people die, from birth on, and for many reasons. But that has been the circle of life from the beginning and always will be. Feeling guilt for having survived so far seems rather wasteful and arrogant to me, as if I had the power to change that. Stuff happens every moment of every day to every living thing. Once in a rare while that stuff is cancer, most of the time it is not. What did you do the first day of school, the day you graduated, the first day on your first job, the day you got married, they day you gave birth? Those are all life changers. Surviving cancer is just one more event to include in the the ever changing life that all of us live, whether we have survived cancer or not.

      over 3 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar

      I can understand how you feel. I think the belief sometimes is having cancer somehow would bring with it a purpose or explanation and a how to manual of how to go on.I take the approach that our lives have changed and we don't get a manual to tell us what to expect . We will look around and hopefully endow ourselves with positive people not to give us purpose but remind us of what is important. And we will loose some along the way and create friendships as well. I would say don't try to focus so hard on finding purpose live your life in a positive way and be the great example you are of a strong, brave, fighter .

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      I don't think cancer is necessarily a call to a higher purpose, as many outspoken people will suggest. It's your life to "waste" however you see fit. I say this with tongue in cheek because I suspect raising your girls is a great use of your time and energy, even if you don't win any public accolades for doing so.

      If you can stomach dark humor consider reading "Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person" which is a cartoon memoir about breast cancer. The author struggled with some of the feelings you are having.

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Survivor guilt can come from so many different sources that I wouldn't feel so bad about experiencing it, just don't let it overwhelm you. We really don't have a choice in who lives and who dies, we can only live the life we are given, so survivor guilt, real as it may be, is not much more than a grieving process for someone else and the opportunities they missed, which we still have. We owe it to them to make the most of our "extra" time, if you want to call it that, and live for them as well. I would hate to think someone would pause their life or miss out on experiences because I was gone.

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      The way you choose to handle your journey should not be based upon anyone else but you. if you show your daughters that you are a survivor then this is a wonderful lesson for them.

      Let it go, refresh yourself and move on.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Go on with your life how it makes the most sense to you.....living life to the fullest is a great gif to your daughters!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar

      I don't feel cancer is a call to a higher purpose. In my case, my mortality gave me a wake up call. I always tried to help others in my life who needed it, however... When I asked God to lead me where He wanted me to be. Thinking as I said it that He most likely needed me with Him. However. He removed my fear, gave me a joy in life, showed me that my family (for the most part) loved and needed me. Thus when I praise Him for my healing it is sincerely and gratefully given. I so want to share with others that it's not a kiss of death. I had Stage IV ovarian cancer....I was initially told I had six months to live. I'm here 7 years later. I couldn't go on with my life as if nothing had happened. However... sometimes when tired, I still do fall asleep without completeting my prayers of thanks.

      over 3 years ago
    • derbygirl's Avatar

      You should not feel guilty about doing well, you should be happy about it. By going on with your life, you're showing your kids that you faced cancer with grit, determination and strength and have earned a fresh start on life. You showed that you have a lot of life to live. Cancer is a horrible disease that takes too many lives but it's the survivors that can carry on the mission to help find a cure and hopefully help put an end to cancer forever.

      over 3 years ago
    • rjtom's Avatar
      rjtom (Best Answer!)

      I know exactly how you feel! My chemo went pretty smoothly and I am now in remission and feel as though there should be some grander purpose to my being here. I also have girls and wonder if they see me differently now. I guess the gift we received was life and filling it with love and happiness will set the best example. I've just joined this site and am finding so many people going through the same things as we are. Don't know if I helped but congratulations and I hope you have a long, happy, healthy life to share with your girls.

      over 3 years ago
    • SpunkyS's Avatar

      I am going to guess that there was great purpose in your life before cancer. No reason to change any of that. I appreciated being able to appreciate my life as it is/was even more than I did pre Ca.
      Being a role model for your children in handling adversity will be enough of an example. Blessings.

      over 3 years ago
    • mommybeatscanc's Avatar

      This question constantly plagued me as well. My personal answer to, "What do I do now?", was to give back in three ways. I made a list of why I was so successful through my treatments and decided to write a blog to hopefully inspire others to fight and live as healthy as possible through their journey. I also started helping people going through cancer at my treatment center, and I fundraise for cancer research. I am doing this to help others, give back, and set an example for my little Gracie. This all has eased my survivor guilt. With time you will find your answer. I think everyone has the answer, it just takes time to figure it out. You are already setting an example for your girls by going through it so well and coming out strong. You are showing them life can be okay after cancer. Anything else you decide to do is icing on that beautiful cake. Congrats on being a survivor!! Here's my blog if you are interested: http://mommybeatscancer.com/

      over 3 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar


      Thank you for sharing your question on Survivor's guilt; it is such a common question on the site that we decided to write a powerful article on ways WhatNexters themselves have learned to cope. Perhaps you will find it helpful if you are still struggling with these feelings.


      Hope all is well,

      almost 3 years ago

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