survivor's guilt

valsatcamp
valsatcamp Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Childhood Cancers #1
Hi, I am a 22 year old long term survivor of childhood liver cancer. I'm wondering if there is anyone out there who feels guilty for making it when so many others don't. I've met so many people who have died from the disease, some even from my same diagnosis. I feel that it's not fair that I'm still here enjoying life when they didn't get that chance.
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  • txmorning73
    txmorning73 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, my name is Dawn, I had Hodgkins lymphoma, three times, and a Bone Marrow Transplant in 93. Since then I have gone into the medical field as a Respiratory Therapist. I work in ICU's and see people die a lot, it bothers me most when I know it's of cancer, especially Hodgkins. On the unit where I got my transplant, all the other patients I met and had as friends, none of them are living now, they all died, and I am still here. Tonight I had a 22 year old patient who died. I can go most days ok now, being 10 years out, but things like this well, they get to me. It is very hard for me to work the unit where I was treated, because it is so hard to see someone die of what I lived through. And, everyone says I lived for a reason, what reason? because I had children, my patient tonight had a child, why couldn't she have lived? What makes me so special? I am sorry, just realized this was a sight for Adult survivors of childhood cancers. Well at least you know you are not alone in feeling guilty.
  • suan
    suan Member Posts: 1
    Your not alone at all. I also question the reasoning behind my suvival. I had lost a friend who had the same cancer as me.She had 2 kids and a husband. At the time I was 22, (this was 10 years ago)still in college and partying everyday. That didn't make sense to me. How me, the party girl was chosen over this wonderful loving mother. This really bothered me. But I look at it this way, Who knows what helped me in beating this cancer. I would love to contribute this to my doctor, and that I was very positive with a lot of hope. But realistically that doesnt make sense because other people who were in the same situation as me didn't make it,and they were just as positive as me and had the same kind of treatment as me. It's not fair in any which way. I think of it this way. Some of us will die by cancer and some of us will die of any other hundreds of diseases or accidents. We had a chance to share our stories and successes with others and pass on our wisdom. I still sometimes get bummed, but it wasn't our time to go and we need to make the most of our lives while we are still here, and live each day to the fullest, and remember those who aren't here.
  • ALMS
    ALMS Member Posts: 4
    I've been free of cancer 28 years, thankfully, and yes early on I had moments of "why did I survive and not the others". At first, I used to speak with children who had what the form of cancer I had, and it was hard to see them not make it and just the look their parents eyes had was enough for me not to want to talk about it, so I went many years not talking about it to anyone except a study that I'm involved with and now with the CSN and of course my family and firends. I'm not embarrased that I survived, and all of us survivors should come out more and speak up about that not everyone dies from Cancer. I personally see that there is a reason why I'm here, and I thank God every day for giving me the chance to be here. Remember the saying "One day at a time"!
  • photoman
    photoman Member Posts: 4

    Hi, my name is Dawn, I had Hodgkins lymphoma, three times, and a Bone Marrow Transplant in 93. Since then I have gone into the medical field as a Respiratory Therapist. I work in ICU's and see people die a lot, it bothers me most when I know it's of cancer, especially Hodgkins. On the unit where I got my transplant, all the other patients I met and had as friends, none of them are living now, they all died, and I am still here. Tonight I had a 22 year old patient who died. I can go most days ok now, being 10 years out, but things like this well, they get to me. It is very hard for me to work the unit where I was treated, because it is so hard to see someone die of what I lived through. And, everyone says I lived for a reason, what reason? because I had children, my patient tonight had a child, why couldn't she have lived? What makes me so special? I am sorry, just realized this was a sight for Adult survivors of childhood cancers. Well at least you know you are not alone in feeling guilty.

    I've never felt guilty for surviving. I have always celebrated my survival. Call it blind faith I guess, but I have always thought that there is some reason for me being here. I haven't become some big famous person or saved the world or found a cure for cancer, but I know that God needed me here for some purpose. I might not ever know what that purpose is!

    I do know that I think of myself as someone who can help others with cancer and I've done a lot of that. Maybe that's enough?

    I would just say, Dawn, don't spend too much time wondering about it. Celebrate your life! Thank God every day (if you're into that)and do what you can to help others!

    David
    Wilm's Tumor 1964
  • DOLSIM
    DOLSIM Member Posts: 3

    Hi, my name is Dawn, I had Hodgkins lymphoma, three times, and a Bone Marrow Transplant in 93. Since then I have gone into the medical field as a Respiratory Therapist. I work in ICU's and see people die a lot, it bothers me most when I know it's of cancer, especially Hodgkins. On the unit where I got my transplant, all the other patients I met and had as friends, none of them are living now, they all died, and I am still here. Tonight I had a 22 year old patient who died. I can go most days ok now, being 10 years out, but things like this well, they get to me. It is very hard for me to work the unit where I was treated, because it is so hard to see someone die of what I lived through. And, everyone says I lived for a reason, what reason? because I had children, my patient tonight had a child, why couldn't she have lived? What makes me so special? I am sorry, just realized this was a sight for Adult survivors of childhood cancers. Well at least you know you are not alone in feeling guilty.

    Hi Dawn, I too felt guilty. I was 15 years out of Hodgkins and one relapse after a 3b diagnosis at 21. In January of 2003 I thought I could help someone else and be part of a study at Dana Farber only to find out I had Breast Cancer because of the mantle radiation. I have since had a bilateral mastectomy and added 4 more rounds of chemo to my resume after the 12 I had for Hodgkins. I still have twinges of guilt, however I now realize I can help more people with my experience of surviving. :)
  • Julie_Tucson
    Julie_Tucson Member Posts: 1
    Hi. I definitely know how you feel. I had cancer when I was about 3 (I am 19 now). While receiving treatment I became friends with a girl who was about a year older than me. We had different types of cancer, but we were both going through Chemo. at the same time. She ended up not making it, and I have always felt guilty or wondered why I made it and she didn't. I can definitely relate to you. I guess my way of dealing with that is by trying to prove everyday that I survived for a reason by actively and aggressively pursuing a college education as well as volunteering and working at the American Cancer Society.
  • cheryl58
    cheryl58 Member Posts: 2

    Hi. I definitely know how you feel. I had cancer when I was about 3 (I am 19 now). While receiving treatment I became friends with a girl who was about a year older than me. We had different types of cancer, but we were both going through Chemo. at the same time. She ended up not making it, and I have always felt guilty or wondered why I made it and she didn't. I can definitely relate to you. I guess my way of dealing with that is by trying to prove everyday that I survived for a reason by actively and aggressively pursuing a college education as well as volunteering and working at the American Cancer Society.

    I've recently loss another friend to cancer & I'm having a hard time in dealing with survivor's guilt. I had Leukemia with only a 10% survival rate. That was 9 yrs ago when I was 36 yrs old. It seems like when someone around me dies from this horrible diease, I find myself feeling guilt & sadden by the loss of such good people. To combat this guilt, I've decided I will see if others has the same problem & seek suggestions from them. I also want to read any articles I can find about it. Surely with education comes less guilt.
  • Orly
    Orly Member Posts: 1
    cheryl58 said:

    I've recently loss another friend to cancer & I'm having a hard time in dealing with survivor's guilt. I had Leukemia with only a 10% survival rate. That was 9 yrs ago when I was 36 yrs old. It seems like when someone around me dies from this horrible diease, I find myself feeling guilt & sadden by the loss of such good people. To combat this guilt, I've decided I will see if others has the same problem & seek suggestions from them. I also want to read any articles I can find about it. Surely with education comes less guilt.

    Do you know of any good articles or books about survivor's guilt?
  • sorcharose
    sorcharose Member Posts: 15
    Orly said:

    Do you know of any good articles or books about survivor's guilt?

    The book, Childhood Cancer Survivors- A Practical Guide to Your Future, By: Nancy Keene, Wendy Hobbie and Kathy Ruccione, isbn# 1-56592-460-6. The chapter on "Emotions", page 43.. is on survival guilt. It's a book I've gotten a lot of use out of and highly recommend.
  • 1984to1994
    1984to1994 Member Posts: 14
    I know how you feel. I am a two time childhood ALL Leukemia survivor now in remission for 10 years at the age 22. I only remember bits and pieces of those times and people. Some of the kids I met I know have died others I just wonder. Sorry for the rambling. Yes I do understand.

    Ken
    [email protected]
  • AuthorUnknown
    AuthorUnknown Member Posts: 1,537 Member
    I'm Darryll and I live in California. I was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma of the left thigh at 15 years old and now am 35. This was a rare cancer dianosis at the time. I had a lot of emotional and relation problems when I was growing up but now married. I have worked hard to beat my cancer and my other problems and am doing well. I became a Paramedic and now am a police officer. I recently found out my cousin died of stomach cancer. I had also experienced being a survivor in the hospiatl where other s have died. I hope you beat all of your problems. good luck!!
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  • srisko
    srisko Member Posts: 33

    I'm Darryll and I live in California. I was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma of the left thigh at 15 years old and now am 35. This was a rare cancer dianosis at the time. I had a lot of emotional and relation problems when I was growing up but now married. I have worked hard to beat my cancer and my other problems and am doing well. I became a Paramedic and now am a police officer. I recently found out my cousin died of stomach cancer. I had also experienced being a survivor in the hospiatl where other s have died. I hope you beat all of your problems. good luck!!

    Survivor's guilt
    I'm a 20 year survivor of ALL at age 25 and I feel guilty about my survivorship as well. I volunteer for the ACS Boston Hope Lodge and some of the guests who have stayed with us pass away and I feel so bad about, especially when they're children.
  • ajadestar
    ajadestar Member Posts: 7
    I had cancer when I was 2.
    I had cancer when I was 2. Im 29 now. I also feel guilty. I feel selfish to have pride and voice it. Feels like Im thinking about myself to much.
  • Marin05
    Marin05 Member Posts: 2
    I was diagnosed recently
    I have a stage 3 lymphoma. I was diagnosed recently using cancer blood test and other tests. I hope to be cured soon. I wish that you cancer survivors should not feel guilty for making it through. No one is to blame if one was not able to make it. Instead of feeling guilty, just try to give support to those cancer patients like me out there.
  • FunnyFace
    FunnyFace Member Posts: 15
    Marin05 said:

    I was diagnosed recently
    I have a stage 3 lymphoma. I was diagnosed recently using cancer blood test and other tests. I hope to be cured soon. I wish that you cancer survivors should not feel guilty for making it through. No one is to blame if one was not able to make it. Instead of feeling guilty, just try to give support to those cancer patients like me out there.

    Sorry to hear..
    Hi Marin05...sorry to hear of your that you have this crazy thing called cancer. I don't know what to tell you. It's a hard road to travel but don't give up. Keep your heart full of hope and faith. Believe in miracles...because they do happen. I am living proof!! I was dx with bonecancer when I was 13 and I am now 35 (cancer free ever since)!

    PEACE
  • Marin05 said:

    I was diagnosed recently
    I have a stage 3 lymphoma. I was diagnosed recently using cancer blood test and other tests. I hope to be cured soon. I wish that you cancer survivors should not feel guilty for making it through. No one is to blame if one was not able to make it. Instead of feeling guilty, just try to give support to those cancer patients like me out there.

    Keep Strong
    Keep strong you are an amazing person and I hope you too will become a survivor and look back in triumph!
  • aliciamp22
    aliciamp22 Member Posts: 5
    Survivor guilt
    Hello,
    I was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia when i was 15 years old, 2 week before my birthday. That is one present i could have gone without. I am 22 years old now and i am on my 4th year of being cancer free in July. It wasn't so hard for me while i was going through it because i did what i had to do to survive. Life after cancer on the other hand has not been easy on me. I always have to think what are the long term effects chemo. I am already seeing side effects from the chemo. I had to put 2years of my life on hold without working or trying to figure out what am i going to do after if i made it. I missed out on high school and making friends. My friends didn't know how to have a friend that has cancer. I have survivor guilt. I have someone close to me who lost her father and i couldn't see why he died and i didn't. I went to visit a child that had a tumor. He didnt know what was happening to him and just kept going to treatment. No one could explain to him what was going on or why he had to go through it...he didnt survive and i couldnt help but feel guilt. I do not know my purpose in life or why i survived but i live everyday as if it was my last and i am grateful for surviving. its just difficult to see people go through what you have and were not able to make it specially children, mom and dads. No one tells you the after effect of cancer when you are going through it or how to get over it.

    If anyone has gone through similar things as me please email me
    [email protected]
    (yes its a still email address...my sister made it for me when i was in middle school)
  • EmilyRTT
    EmilyRTT Member Posts: 5

    Survivor guilt
    Hello,
    I was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia when i was 15 years old, 2 week before my birthday. That is one present i could have gone without. I am 22 years old now and i am on my 4th year of being cancer free in July. It wasn't so hard for me while i was going through it because i did what i had to do to survive. Life after cancer on the other hand has not been easy on me. I always have to think what are the long term effects chemo. I am already seeing side effects from the chemo. I had to put 2years of my life on hold without working or trying to figure out what am i going to do after if i made it. I missed out on high school and making friends. My friends didn't know how to have a friend that has cancer. I have survivor guilt. I have someone close to me who lost her father and i couldn't see why he died and i didn't. I went to visit a child that had a tumor. He didnt know what was happening to him and just kept going to treatment. No one could explain to him what was going on or why he had to go through it...he didnt survive and i couldnt help but feel guilt. I do not know my purpose in life or why i survived but i live everyday as if it was my last and i am grateful for surviving. its just difficult to see people go through what you have and were not able to make it specially children, mom and dads. No one tells you the after effect of cancer when you are going through it or how to get over it.

    If anyone has gone through similar things as me please email me
    [email protected]
    (yes its a still email address...my sister made it for me when i was in middle school)

    Hi, there.
    Hi, my name is Emily. I don't want to sound strange, but I am so thankful there is someone else out there who feels the same way I do. I was diagnosed with pNET (Ewing's Sarcoma) when I was 14. My first night at the hospital for chemo, I met J who had osteosarcoma. We became best friends on the pedi floor. I got better with treatment, and she didn't. J died a few days after her 16th birthday. I am now 21, a student at Texas State University, and studying Radiation Therapy. I never felt like I needed counseling, until I was in college and realized that no one understood what it was like to be a cancer survivor. My friends tell me it's great that I lived, but sometimes I wish I could have traded places with J.

    I'll email you, if you'd like. [email protected] or [email protected]

    - Emily
  • TJ74
    TJ74 Member Posts: 18
    EmilyRTT said:

    Hi, there.
    Hi, my name is Emily. I don't want to sound strange, but I am so thankful there is someone else out there who feels the same way I do. I was diagnosed with pNET (Ewing's Sarcoma) when I was 14. My first night at the hospital for chemo, I met J who had osteosarcoma. We became best friends on the pedi floor. I got better with treatment, and she didn't. J died a few days after her 16th birthday. I am now 21, a student at Texas State University, and studying Radiation Therapy. I never felt like I needed counseling, until I was in college and realized that no one understood what it was like to be a cancer survivor. My friends tell me it's great that I lived, but sometimes I wish I could have traded places with J.

    I'll email you, if you'd like. [email protected] or [email protected]

    - Emily

    I understand
    It says somewhere in the bible (I'm paraphrasing here) that you can't go through something that is uncommon to man. What is common to man though? A few people, lots of people or everyone? When I was 16 I was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live but I wasn't sad. The opposite actually. I was looking forward to going to heaven away from this painful place. But God had other plans for me. I went through all the chemo/radiation, had a relapse, had more chemo and then a bone marrow transplant. That was 20 years ago. One person, while I was on the bmt ward, died while I was in. My mom worked with a lady who's son needed a transplant and aft he talked to me about it cause I live, took it and died. Shortly afterwards I became close with someone who was in the middle of a transplant. He called me one night at midnight and told me excitedly that God had healed him. He came over shortly after and stayed the night. He was so sick. Two weeks later he died. That broke my heart. I have had many people, theosophists and doctors ask me why I wasn't grateful that I lived. I don't expect anyone to understand. I would have given my life for either of my friends but sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not happy that I survived. Is that common to man? There are people out there who understand, they are just few and far beyond.