This really hit a nerve. I understand Survivor’s Guilt, or whatever you want to call it, when it comes to cancer. As I sat in my car reading this blog, tears streamed down my face. I am a 3 year survivor of renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, and there are several reasons that the survivor’s guilt kicks in with me. First, renal cell carcinoma is very difficult to detect early. It doesn’t give any symptoms until it’s very advanced. Mine was Stage 1 and was only discovered because I had a CT scan for something else. Second, renal cell carcinoma, if caught early has a very high survival rate. Third, I am missing a third of my kidney, but this type of cancer doesn’t usually require a lot of extra treatment. They only try things like chemo and radiation in the more advanced stages. Fourth, is the personal connection I feel to so many of my friends who have passed away or endured so much in their fight for cancer. Why did my friends Pamela and Jeff have such battles with colon cancer, and why did Pamela ultimately lose hers? Why did my friend Betty die recently just a few months after her leukemia diagnosis and why did my friends Debbie and Judy suffer with their cancer and lose their battles. The one that hits the hardest is why am I still alive and doing well, when Karen, who was the flower girl at our wedding pass away from recurrent breast cancer this January at 38?
It may not be true survivor’s guilt, but I definitely feel it.
I have been reading a blog here (which blog unfortunately I cannot remember now) where the blogger was feeling a “survivor guilt” because s/he had early stage cancer, was now doing well, but was nevertheless feeling guilty of surviving while many others did not.
I have been hearing survivor guilt in cancer patients for some time. I wonder whether it is used to cover overlapping but distinct concepts?
The wikipedia entry for survivor guilt, although not specific for cancer, explains it; notice how different it is; i.e. those feeling survivor guilts blaming themselves for the death of others.
In cancer, I do not think any of the cancer survivors blame themselves for the death of others. But I know from many survivors that they will not feel good about their own survival (at least time to time) when they see others who are lost to this disease. It may be one of…
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