• Why do I feel down, after a great outcome, and a very minimal experience?

    Asked by Mom5 on Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Why do I feel down, after a great outcome, and a very minimal experience?

    Since my diagnosis and treatment all took place within less than a month, from January 21 (first symptom) to February 17 (surgery), and I don't need any further treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy, I almost feel guilty calling myself a cancer survivor. When I see the struggles that other people go through to wear that purple shirt (my son included - he is a 20-year survivor of brain cancer), I realize how lucky I am. Even writing these words seems so unbearably selfish - to me, it shouldn't seem as though I even have a problem.

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear Mom5:
      First of all, you are a survivor! You can never underplay that. What makes us survivors is the fact they we have/had cancer and we are or may be recovered. Nevertheless, I understand how you feel. I was first diagnosed as Stage 1 breast cancer and the initial biopsy showed a small tumor. The onc's first opinion was that I would need a lumpectomy and radiation. I felt relief, yes, but also disappointment in a way. I wasn't going to have the full cancer "experience". I felt like a fraud calling myself a survivor. Just like you, I looked at all these other people living with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, double mastectomies, loss of limbs and tissue, and felt like I didn't have "real" cancer, just a little intrusion. After the genetic testing of my surgically removed tumor, however, I was "upgraded" to Stage 2 because the cancer was fairly aggressive. So I got the chemotherapy, after all. Funny thing was, it didn't mean I had more or less cancer, just more treatment. The course of treatment didn't make any difference in my feelings about having cancer. We still have had cancer - we have gone through that brush with death experience, we wonder about tumor cells elsewhere, we fear recurrence. All that, and more, is the same. That's the true cancer experience and living through that is what makes us survivors!
      BTW, my best to your son, a 20 year survivor, and to you, a 3 month survivor.
      From a 6 month survivor.

      over 4 years ago
    • joyce's Avatar

      There is always someone whose problems are worse than our own, but that doesn't make our problems any less real or less difficult to deal with. When you are hit with a cancer diagnosis, your life changes in so many ways. You really are grieving the loss of security in your health. That's OK to do, and like any other grief, it will lessen in time.

      over 4 years ago
    • cancerfree's Avatar

      First I like to say , Congrats on being a survivor I too am a anal cancer survivor relish in the gift that your not going through what other's had or have too your blessed share your story it still will inspire other's I promise you.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      I want to mimic what others have said. You should not feel that your story has less meaning just because it has less pages. Some of the best movies come from short stories. We all take away something different from these experiences, and whatever you take away, a part of that is the fear, devastation, courage, and triumph you felt during your short journey to being a cancer survivor.

      over 4 years ago
    • Cath1953's Avatar

      congrats on being a survivor. I had a bouble masectomy . I was stage 1 and 2 lymph nodes removed. I undrestand how you feel but be grateful they caught it early. I know I am and somehow I was upbeat though the whole thing. Chemo, radiation and reconstruton. Please don't feel guilty. Feel blessed. I go for the final surgery April 2 and i,m thrilled I can't wait until it is over.

      over 4 years ago
    • KJB's Avatar

      I too am a breast cancer survivor. Lumpectomy, radiation, Tamoxifen. After my radiation treatments I felt let down and almost quilty that because I didn't have to "suffer" with more treatments or that I wasn't doing more to continue to fight my cancer. I know I should be happy and celebrating that treatment was finished and I had survived! But as others have said before me, the severity of our cancer and treatment makes it no less real, no less difficult to deal with and still leaves us insecure about our health. Everyday I am grateful that I have done well but I also will always fear recurrence. Its okay to have our feelings and great that we all can share and lift one another up. Bless you and your son!

      over 4 years ago
    • RebeccaLynn25's Avatar

      I felt the same way!! I didn't look for outside help because I thought there are other people that needed it more than I did. I've been able to work the whole time I've been sick and I too felt guilty that I wouldn't have to be in treatment as long and I wasn't as sick, or felt as bad as some of the other cancer patients. Everything we feel is just how we feel. There's no right or wrong way to feel about it. I just realize how lucky I am, and know that I will survive. What I've learned and what I've been through, I can use to help others and I know everything I've been through, will be good thing.

      over 4 years ago
    • Cath1953's Avatar

      to kjb, I agree there is a fear in the back of my mind even though I'm cancer free and on Tomoxafen. I don't have the BRCA gene but there are other cancers in my family. I don't really think about it much and i'm very greatful for where I am.

      over 4 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar


      I had cancer pretty bad, not as bad as some, worse than others. But a few aspects of a cancer diagnosis are universal:

      1. We face mortality. What is my life worth? Creating a living will? For some, it is the first real time to have considered death.

      2. We face the possibility of recurrence. "No evidence of disease" is not a "get out of jail free card." Six months after completing treatment, I had a CT scan and bone scan. I was told the results were clear, then fifteen minutes later told that something was suspicious about my ovaries. Those who have had a cancer diagnosis realize how tentative the status of NED truly is.

      3. Like motherhood, living through treatment is membership into a club. After having children, i was surprised by the number of strangers who would initiate a conversation about childbirth or rearing children. The same is true of cancer patients. I was at a theme park and a man noticed my port. He'd had cancer too, and we shared our experiences.

      There are more similarities that all cancer patients past and present share. And, although they may vary by degree slightly, they are universal.

      over 4 years ago
    • Mom5's Avatar

      Thank you all so much for taking the time to answer me! Each and every one of you has given me something helpful to think about for a long time. Bashiemn, I loved your book analogy. I'm an avid reader, and you're right, sometimes the story can be told in a very few pages, but that doesn't make it any less a good story. I read all of your answers through tears, and I feel privileged to be a part of this club that none of us asked to join. I'll be thinking of you all as I walk the Survivors' Lap with my son and my best friend, who is a breast cancer survivor. I hope to be able to help others the way you have all helped me.

      over 4 years ago
    • 1Gr8teacher's Avatar

      Thank you for asking this question and thank you to all that answered it so beautifully! I have had the same thoughts.Sometimes I feel almost bipolar because I go back and forth between feeling so incredibly blessed and then feeling sad when I think about what happened. Currently I am struggling with how I should answer when someone asks me how I am doing. I feel like I should say "great" because my cancer was caught early, completely removed in surgery and I don't need chemo or radiation. I am really blessed!!! But I still had cancer. This has been a hard pill to swallow for me. So again, thanks for the question. It helped me alot!

      over 4 years ago

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