Dealing with Survivors Guilt
It has been a long journey from where we started back in December of 2020, the first signs of me feeling sick in the middle of the pandemic, to almost 2 years of battling cancer. But the real challenge now is moving forward.
Doctors really can’t prepare you for this part because although they treat you and hope to cure you from the cancer. They don’t deal with the aftermath of the cancer, the emotional and mental fight that cancer leaves behind.
One of the struggles is accepting that you made it. You would think that the minute you hear that you’re in remission you would celebrate. But it doesn’t work that way? Well, it didn’t work that way for us. Everyone’s journey is different. Our doctor had to repeat himself several times that I was ok, that I was in remission before we finally exhaled. We literally sat with the doctor asking for next steps, like what other treatments must we have… we really didn’t accept at that moment that we were in remission. I think that technically we still haven’t really celebrated the fact that it’s over.
Have you ever heard of soldiers that come back from war and suffer from survivors’ guilt? They feel guilty that they made it back even though some of their friends did not. Well, it happens in the cancer community too.
You meet so many others who fought cancer and didn’t make it, that you end up feeling guilty to celebrate, to cheer on the fact that you have survived cancer. It’s horrible. But I wouldn’t have known that was what I was feeling if it weren’t for the fact that I have spent time in social communities with other cancer patients who have or are facing the same problem.
What do you do with the Survivors’ Guilt?
So, what have I done? First, it’s been nearly four months since I have been in remission. I have just given it time to let it sink in. Slowly I have been changing my social profiles from cancer warrior to cancer survivor.
Secondly, I remind myself to be grateful to be able to have the opportunity to share my life with Ammie and still be part of the life of my grandson, Elijah, who at the writing of this blog I haven’t had the chance to meet. I’m also grateful that I get to spend time with other family members like my mom who has been so supportive during this time. Plus, to be grateful for other family members and friends that are currently in my life and those that will eventually be part of my life too.
Third, never forget that cancer affects 1 in 3 people and some of those people don’t make it. I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t care enough to take time to visit and keep in touch with those that are close to me that can use the support and trust me there are many of those type of people out there.
Fourth, I’m setting goals to lead a better life with Ammie, to live differently and enjoy the time we have. We’re staying busy every day working towards these goals.
I am hoping that doing these things every day will help me move forward from the survivors’ guilt that I feel, especially when you know that some people with cancer are living with terminal cancer and when you get calls and messages from people you know whose loved one’s fight with cancer has come to an end. I hope we all remember how important it is to show support to those we love who are going through cancer.
Thank you to all of you who showed so much love and support during our difficult time.
“Thank you for following my journey. I invite you to continue to follow my journey beyond cancer. I am developing a program called “Jose’s Heroes” where I create a platform for other cancer fighters to share their stories on my platform (Jose’s Warriors) and to also create opportunities to give financially back to individuals and families going through cancer.
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