This post is a part of the week long Live Your Best Life series in celebration of Survivor Week.
Let’s be honest—being a cancer survivor can be tough at times. While there’s joy in knowing you made it through a diagnosis and treatment, you may worry about recurrence and adjusting to your new life. Some survivors may also experience feelings of guilt after they have no evidence of disease.
Survivor’s guilt can range from questions of “Why me?” and “Why did I survive?” to depression and even suicidal thoughts. Some may try to make sense of why they survived and others didn’t, while some people may feel guilty about the changes their families are going through. In its more extreme forms, survivor’s guilt is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Coping With Survivor’s Guilt
Unfortunately, survivor’s guilt is common, but it’s important not to blame yourself for your diagnosis or survival. Cancer is complicated and there are many causes—we’re just beginning to understand the whole process. Remind yourself that you can’t change what happened to you or others in the past, but you do have a say in your future. Here are 5 things you can do to help manage survivor’s guilt and get on the path to living your best life:
- Reach out to a counselor or therapist (organizations like Cancer Care offer free counseling).
- Express your feelings through a hobby like art, music or writing.
- You’re not alone! Call our Toll-free Helpline at (877) 422-2030 whenever you need support.
- Explore your spiritual side—you may find answers there.
- Volunteering and helping others can be a great way to pay it forward and share your story, which may ease the burden of guilt.
We’re Here For You
Survivor’s guilt is a real feeling that many survivors experience, and while it’s important to acknowledge it, you don’t have to conquer it on your own. Many people are here for you: your family and friends, other survivors and us! And don’t forget, the Blue Hope Nation is available if you ever need a safe space to speak with others who can relate.
Have you experienced feelings of guilt? If so, what’s helped you?
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.