Feelings of Guilt

SylviaM Member Posts: 14
Do you suffer from guilt?  I know I do, even though I am told not to, I still do.  I feel like I have put everyone's life on hold because of my diagnosis.  I was lucky that I was diagnosed early and that my treatment has been relatively text book - surgery, radiation to start soon and then Hormone Blocking therapy. I paid for Oncotype testing which thankfully said I didn't need chemo.  I am so lucky compared to others and for this I am grateful.
Because of my diagnosis my husbands life was once again turned upside down.  He has been so supportive as usual, He suffers from depression and anxiety which he has managed really well, but when I was diagnosed I know he has been working really hard not to let these get on top of him again.  On an insignificant point he missed going on a fishing holiday.  I know it's only a fishing holiday but it's one he has been waiting for, for over 2 years. He has been stocking up on fishing gear for the last 2 years and it was a trip he had been planning with our son and my father.  It was possibly the last trip my dad would be going on. my dad has 4 girls no boys, my husband is like a son to him.  Dad said at the time of booking that this would be his last trip as at 75 he would be too old to think of another one in 2 years time.  At the time of my diagnosis my husband was required to pay the final installment of this holiday.  The organisers would not wait the one or two weeks for the out come from the tests I was undergoing  As a result he backed out of the trip and lost  his deposit.  I encouraged him to go as he would only be gone a week.  I was sure that we could work around treatment to fit into his holiday, yet he still wouldn't go.  My son was disappointed - he actually said that now that we know the treatment plan "dad could of come".  My son didn't mean it, I think it was the only way he could articulate his disappointment. I didn't stop him.  He made the decision not to go, so why do I feel the guilt.
The guilt is because I feel this diagnosis was too easy.  So many people hear the word "Cancer" they expect you to look really sick, undergo chemo and just be, well you know.....I have none of these symptoms.  I am going about my daily life doing everything I would normally do where as so many of my family have put their lives on hold waiting for me and my test results.  I have received so much from family and friends that I feel I do not deserve.  I also feel guilty going back to the office as I know my co workers are going to look at me and see nothing "sick" about me.  I feel guilty as my very dear friend is talking about the two of us going away for a weekend girls weekend, we were meant to go overseas in 2020 but COVID stopped that.  How can I go away when my husband didn't go on his trip????
I am so sorry to go on about something so trivial and for making my diagnosis sound so easy.  I just needed to share how I was feeling in a safe place.  I am sorry if I have offended anyone with how simple I am making things.  Trust me I am not.  Cancer is cancer and it is scarry no matter how early you get it.  Thank you for listening and allowing me this safe place to rant a little.


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,328

    I think you have answered your own question - cancer is cancer and is scary no matter how early you get it. You have done nothing to feel guilty about. You have been diagnosed, had treatment and may look forward to recovery. That is what everyone around you would wish. I too
    had few of the anticipated outward signs of cancer - no nausea, fatigue, I continued working, and in spite of chemo, most of the time I looked in robust good health! I didn’t feel guilty but I certainly felt fortunate. The decisions others make are just that, their decisions. Be grateful for their wish to be there for you, but feeling guilty doesn’t help them or you. Encourage that fishing trip now rather than later! Plan your trip too. Cancer is a powerful reminder that life is never certain, stuff happens. Everyone needs to seize the moment. Best wishes. 
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,372
    Guilt is an interesting emotion, isn't it? Some people are easily shamed and others have cast iron hides. 

    Don't feel bad about your situation not turning into a full blown one-with-the-lot disaster. It's all out of your control; you can not predict any of this stuff and neither can anybody else.

    You also have limited agency over other people. Sounds like your husband made a decision based on how much guilt he was willing to wear if your news had been different and he wasn't there with you. Either way, one of you was going to feel like shit.

    These things pass. Feel what you are feeling, have a good look at those emotions, know they are valid then try to park them on a shelf somewhere for a while.

    If you find you are still struggling in a few weeks time, or feel that you are really getting dragged down, think about seeing a counselor. Cancer, as you say, is cancer. It has a lasting impact. Mxx

  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,241
    Cancer is cancer! That's it. It is a terrible disease and it hits hard in many ways. Shame and guilt are not what you should feel but it happens. Maybe listen to Brene Brown on utube or Spotify. She does some amazing talks on Shame and Guilt. These are damaging emotions really and by tapping into them you are telling yourself you aren't worthy. But you are worthy aren't you? I bet you have done everything for everyone in the past. I am sure your family would want you to have a weekend away. Encourage your husband to do that fishing trip as well. Both can happen and both of you deserve it. 
  • SylviaM
    SylviaM Member Posts: 14
    @Afraser - Thank you.  Yes I do feel fortunate especially as this has been the third cancer diagnosis for me (all different) so to get out of this lightly is such a blessing. I appreciate your thoughts.

    @Zoffiel You hit the nail on the head regarding my husband and yes one of us was going to feel like shit.  I am always about other and how they feel that I don't put much thought to me,  I think I really do need to seek a councelor as I have never really delved deep into any of my cancer diagnosis, I have dealt with the issues, treatment and gotton on with it.  I always dig my feelings down as I needed/need to be strong for others.  Thank you for input.

  • SylviaM
    SylviaM Member Posts: 14
    @Cath62 - I have listened to Brene in the past and found her very insightful.  I know guilt can eat away at you but it is so controlling.  Time to push these feelings aside.  I think I'll plan a surprise fishing trip for my husband and a girls weekend away with my friends.  Thank you for reminding me to listen to Brene again.

  • FLClover
    FLClover Member Posts: 1,513
    edited April 2022
    A few things were out of your control here. Firstly, the unforgiving nature of the people asking for the final payment without waiting a bit for your test results. That’s on them, not you. They should feel that guilt, as I’m sure it would not have inconvenienced them greatly to wait for you to see how much you have to fight for your life 🙄🤨. 
    Next, getting cancer, for the third time no less, was also out of your control. No matter how early it was caught, it’s still a threat to your life, it’s that simple. We as a society have to stop being compassionate only when people look sick. Mental and emotional illness is overlooked too much, and is just as, if not more, debilitating as a physical one. Cancer is both. Looking sick shouldn’t be a prerequisite for a person to be shown some empathy and compassion. The fact you might have needed chemo and gotten worse results is enough to traumatise you and create PTSD. It’s that PTSD that often wrecks us on the inside, even though we might look ok on the outside. 
    I’ve been going through similar, as I also look ok. I caught mine early, had a dmx and radiation, no chemo. Now on hormone blockers. Sounds simple. Go take a look inside my head at times, and feel my emotions, especially when I have to go near a hospital again, and see how ok I am. See how I get flashbacks that me tremble and get a panic attack. See how I feel when I remember that recurrence is a possibility with anyone. How I feel when I read about young women passing from it. Other people can’t see this, but I can, and because I respect myself a whole lot more now, I tell them. I tell them I can’t do certain things because I’m sore from the hormone blockers, and that I’m fatigued, and don’t have clear focus anymore. And that I’m scared. I tell them they need to be more understanding, and help me more. I may look ok, but I’m not always. This includes my 9 year old daughter. She’s mostly very helpful, but sometimes gives me attitude, so I remind her very promptly of these things. Yes, she’s my daughter and I love her more than anything, but I love myself too. 
    None of these things can be helped really. It’s life’s fault, not yours. You shouldn’t need to look sick for people to understand you and help you. Don’t forget that people are selfish by nature. Sometimes they need reminding to be more humble. 
    The fact you’ve had cancer 3 times, I think means you definitely have to look into the psychological side of things and see what’s inside you that’s causing hurt and despair. 
  • Keeping_positive1
    Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 554
    @SylviaM I would expect a husband would sacrifice a trip to stay and support, because as you say cancer is cancer.  I have no qualms now about telling people I still have side effects from what cancer and treatment has done to my body if they ask something of me that I really can't or am not interested in doing. Cancer is big, and our emotions get a good shake up, so please share here even if you think you have less of a burden to carry compared to others, we all get it!  Our struggles are real!

    Life is short, and so we need to not have guilt over things where we have done no wrong.  If you continue to have guilty feelings, could be good to unpack that with a counsellor.  I went out of my way to make my breast cancer
    diagnosis easier on friends and family, and took up invitations to please them, never again!  Now I put myself first!  A cancer diagnosis for me has had a huge impact on my life and how I now view friendships.  Two cancer diagnoses for me in the space of eight months was more than my fair share.  Take care of YOU.  All the best. xx