Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Survivor Guilt, what Gives?

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay in blog posts, I had a family emergency and was away for awhile but I am back!

One of the things I have thought about a lot lately has been the idea of survivor guilt. I amazed at how common this is with cancer survivors (myself included). Survivor guilt in a nutshell is being upset about being alive, wondering how you "made it" if you will, while other people don't. How come treatment worked for me and not someone else? Why did my cancer get caught early? Or why did mine that looked so bad get treated successfully while someone else with better prognosis didn't? Why can't treatment work for everyone? All common questions.(Here is a link that briefly sums it up /Survivor%20Guilt%20What%20Long-term%20Survivors%20Don%27t%20Talk%20About.pdf)

I think survivor guilt is a bit interesting these days as it really shows how much empathy and how compassionate many people are who have this type of guilt. I think it stems from the fact that we all know the fear and pain that cancer causes, and no one wants anyone to go through it.

I wish I had a good way, or tips to help people deal with these types of things but I don't. The only thing I do know is how different it is for everyone who has to deal with it. My struggle is different than what anyone else is going through. I just know this, we shouldn't feel bad about getting through something so horrible. The only way I have found to be an effective way to deal with it has been to try to give back to causes and to people who are going through cancer treatment.

The one "good thing" that comes from this survivor guilt I have found is that it really has made me aware of the struggle that not only cancer patients go through, but anyone with a terrible disease, and gets treated. The battle doesn't end when you leave the hospital. It gives me empathy and understanding that maybe I wouldn't of had otherwise. It is an ongoing struggle for many people, and one with no definite ending point.

Even over a year out of treatment I still feel survivor guilt. I always think a year is a "long time" and I should be over these things, but the more I talk to people the more I realize, it is not really that long. It can be exhausting. It rarely isn't. I worry that it may never leave, but I am beginning to manage it now. I think, for me, I can't "get rid" of these feelings, but accepting them for now, with hope down the road they will leave. With regards to survivor guilt, I know I am happy to be alive. I know I am happy I got through it all. And I know I feel terrible for the people and families that did not. These feelings lead to a lot of conflict, and accepting them rather than fighting them is my new strategy.

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