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Guilt, blame and anger

Read about the feelings of guilt, blame and anger that you may have and how talking can help.

Guilt and blame

You might blame yourself, or other people, for your illness. Understanding better how it has come about can help you feel better.

Chance and lifestyle or genetic inheritance?

Many different factors come together to cause a cancer. Often, chance plays a big part and the cancer is not due to anything that you have done. Some people are more likely to develop a cancer because of the genes they inherited at birth. But most cancers are not due to an inherited gene.

Cancers start because of a mistake in copying DNA when normal cells are dividing and growing. Several of these mistakes have to happen before a cell becomes cancerous. 

Although some of our unhealthy behaviour can increase the risk of mistakes in our genes, the mistakes can also just happen by chance as our cells divide and grow.

Even when people know this they may still wonder if the cancer has been caused by something they did.

Talking helps

Because chance plays its part, and doctors rarely know exactly what has caused a cancer, there's no reason to blame yourself or other people. Even so, sometimes it can be hard to get rid of these feelings. Talking about your feelings does help.


You might find that your illness makes you feel angry with:

  • the people close to you
  • the doctors and nurses who are caring for you
  • your God, if you are religious
  • people who are well - why should this have happened to you and not to someone else?

Friends and relatives think you are angry with them

It’s normal to feel angry, and there is no need to feel guilty about angry thoughts or moods.

But relatives and friends don't always realise that you are angry about your illness. They might think you are angry with them. It may help to:

  • tell them how you feel at a time when you are not feeling quite so angry
  • ask them to read these pages if talking is difficult

These feelings may crop up from time to time throughout your illness and treatment.

Relatives may also be angry that your illness has changed things for them and feel that it has caused trouble in their lives. Often this is not even a conscious thought, but the angry feelings can still be strong.

How talking can help

Expressing your feelings and discussing them openly can help. Bottling them up can make everyone feel upset and cross.

If you are finding it hard to talk to your family, it might help to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist. 

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.