Survivor’s guilt

Life after cancer like I’ve said before is sometimes worse than going through treatment but survivor’s guilt is something that I never understood. I’ve heard about it a lot in the cancer community but it never really hit me until it happened to me. When you have cancer you connect with a lot of other people so you create a bond. That bond is so special because you get what each other is going through or have gone through, there’s no other one like it.

Survivor’s guilt

When I was initially diagnosed I wondered “why me?” but after I battled through all the chemo and stem cell transplant and came out the other end then heard my consultant say “you’re in remission” then heard others who were battling at the same time as me but didn’t make it I thought “why not me?”. What did I do that made me survive and others didn’t. It’s not fair. I fought cancer and won so I should feel elated, thankful and for the most part I do however now and again there’s one emotion that overshadows all of these and that’s survivor’s guilt.

Whenever I see children and babies who fight so hard but then see that they didn’t survive and they had all their life in front of them and then there’s me crying at the thought of their families who have lost a massive part of their family and I really couldn’t imagine what it feels like to lose a child to cancer or any disease for that matter but I’m like why couldn’t it have been me?

There are so many friends I’ve made over social media who I’ve seen pass away because of the dreaded C word. The treatments have stopped working or there’s been nothing else they can do and when you read something like that I can’t tell you the emotion and the heartbreak. The times my friends have said they are relapsing and there’s nothing I can do, it hurts. It really hurts.

Survivors guilt

Coping with survivor’s guilt

Acknowledge your guilt. I suppose the first step in coping with survivors guilt is to acknowledge that the feelings are real. This is something I didn’t accept for a long time but your feelings are valid and there’s nothing wrong with feeling the way you do.

Reach out. Sometimes just trying to express how you feel can be hard especially when not everyone understands but there’s always someone who will know how you are feeling. A lot of my cancer friends get all of my frustrations and feelings so please reach out if you’re struggling, even just a simple “hi” can spark a conversation.

Allow yourself to grieve. Even if you don’t know someone personally you should still give yourself time to come to terms with what’s happened. That sadness that comes with survivor’s guilt can be overwhelming so give yourself some time to grieve.

Accept that there are no answers. I’m always asking myself why I’m still in remission while others are dying or relapsing from cancer but honestly there’s no answer. You have to acknowledge that there may never be an answer for that question and accept that sometimes life and cancer don’t make sense.

Act of Kindness. If you’ve lost a friend to cancer or just someone who you were close to sometimes a little act of kindness can make the feeling of loosing them a better memory and may make it a little less painful.

Give back. I know personally how giving something back to the cancer community can help with survivor’s guilt. I set up a little page on Facebook to raise awareness and money for blood cancer now and this helps me concentrate on giving back but honestly it doesn’t have to be something massive, just something like maybe volunteer at an event or donate a few pounds a month if you can!

Survivors guilt

I try to take each day as it comes as I know each day is a gift. The past no longer exists and there’s nothing I can do to change it so what’s important is the here and now but If you are struggling with survivor’s guilt please don’t hide yourself away, reach out and I can promise that taking to someone will help a lot more than keeping all your feelings inside.

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26 Comments

  1. September 9, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Thank you for sharing this, hope you have a day to rest today and feel better soon. Your words above are so important, and for me resonate on other guilt feelings, I lost a friend suddenly a few years ago and though I know it’s rubbish I often feel inadequate that I’m not doing “more” in my life, being more, because I’m here but she isn’t, but I know I’m doing my best x

    • September 12, 2018 / 12:15 pm

      Thank you! I’m so sorry about your friend but I complete understand your feelings as I feel like that most days. It sucks but we just have to remind ourselves we are doing the best we can as you say 💕 xo

  2. September 9, 2018 / 8:57 am

    Thank youu for sharing this post Sam! I have yet to feel anything like this myself, I am soo thankful that no one close has passed away. But I know it could happen at any day. There are a lot of questions that go through your head, you so much want to help and be strong. I love and admire everything you have achieved! I am soo proud of you. Thank youu for opening up about Survivor’s Guilt I’m sure you’ve helped a lot of people.

    Gemma | http://www.anoceanglimmer.wordpress.com

    • September 12, 2018 / 12:16 pm

      Your comments always seem to make me happy when I’m sad! Thank you so so much, lovely xo

      • September 12, 2018 / 7:18 pm

        Aww you’re welcome! I try my best, I really hope you feel better soon lovely x

  3. Sophie Hearts
    September 9, 2018 / 9:41 am

    This is such a sad but important post, I can’t even imagine the complicated feelings that are involved but I’m so sorry you feel anything other than happy at being okay yourself. I think it’s absolutly amazing that you’ve set up a page to spread awareness and raise money and you’re so inspiring.

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com xx

    • September 12, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      I felt like I needed to write it down somewhere to help myself but more importantly others. Awh, thank you Soph! xo

  4. September 9, 2018 / 10:12 am

    Thank you for sharing this post. It’s not something I thought would happen, however, upon reflection I can why it would. Your tips will be so helpful for those who are going through the same. 💕
    Karen | ouririshfamily.com

    • September 13, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      I really hope it helps others going through not only survivors guilt but any kind of guilt for that matter. Thank you so much for your comment! xo

  5. September 9, 2018 / 10:22 am

    I hope the feeling of guilt reduces! Its great to see you have set a fundraising page, I hope it goes well

  6. September 9, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    This post has made me feel really emotional so I can only imagine how you’re feeling, it must be so hard to cope with survivors guilt but I’m sure you opening up about this will help a lot of people so well done you you’re an inspiration girl!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

    • September 13, 2018 / 3:31 pm

      Awh, it’s definitely hard to live with, some days are worse than others but hopefully writing this post will help others struggling with any kind of guilt. Thank you, lovely xo

  7. September 9, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    You are an absolute inspiration my darling, I can only imagine what you went through on your journey but the way you have spoken about it so openly and honestly is so inspiring! If you ever need anything or a chat I’m here angel!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    • September 13, 2018 / 3:32 pm

      This really means a lot, girl. Thank you SO much! xo

  8. September 9, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    These are very important actions to take to take a step forward. Feelings are definitely real and it’s hard to think about what’s the right thing to do sometimes. Having friends and family you can speak to help a ton. It is very unfortunate that there’s no solid treatment that can help everyone but the best we can do is hope and try. An act of kindness goes a long way. Thank you for sharing these tips and opening up. Sending you lots of love.

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • September 13, 2018 / 3:35 pm

      Thank you so much Nancy for your lovely comment. I definitely agree with talking to friends and family, sometimes just someone there to listen is all you need ❤️ xo

  9. September 10, 2018 / 12:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. This post made me really emotional so I can hardly imagine how it made you feel. I believe it’s so important connecting with others even in poor situations. You’re such a strong human being and I’m so glad that you have the opportunity to share what you went through. Thank you so much again.

    • September 13, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      It definitely wasn’t easy to write. Oh I completely agree, they know what you’ve gone through so you have such a strong connection even if you don’t know them personally. Awh, thank you! xo

  10. September 21, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    This is so useful to read. Im on the other side of the road, in that my husband, who has been battling grade 4 stomach and bowel cancer, is really struggling with having his first clear scan. I thought he would be elated, but it was like shock, guilt, all manner of emotions came rushing in to him. /I feel I understand a little better, so thank you for sharing xxx

  11. October 26, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Although I haven’t been given the all clear yet, I feel guilty because I am surviving and I lost someone who was on the same journey as me, battling cancer. It sucks feeling this way but it helps knowing other people have felt this emotion before! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, lovely blog post, and beautifully written. X

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