Together we will beat cancer


Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 00:41

Hi, my name is Izzy and I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer.

It was a neuroblastoma that strangely developed at the bottom of my spine. After intense chemo, radiotherapy and 2 stem cell treatments I went into remission and have remained so for the past 7 years, despite 2 scares over the years. My hair has never grown back and I’ve been left with growth hormone deficiency and memory issues. 

I feel so lucky to be alive, considering my odds were almost not existent, but some days I feel like cancer has destroyed me as a young person.

However something that I’ve always struggled with is the guilt that I feel because I survived when my friends in hospital didn’t. 

I also feel guilty because I’ve never done an activity or event to raise money for all the wonderful different cancer charities. I see so many cancer survivors go on to raise amazing amounts of money for hospitals, charities and support groups but I feel so guilty that I haven’t. 

Whenever I see stories about cancer, try to tell people about my story or even see adverts on the television I get so upset and it’s all too much, even 7 years after treatment  

I was wondering if anyone else felt this guilt or could give me some advice about moving on. 

Thank you


Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 01:34 in response to IsabelH

Hi there ...

Bless ya, your not alone ... I was 63 when diagnosed with breast cancer, a grade 3 .. and had a masectomy in 2017 ... I've got lots of health issues , my age ... and although want to be here, ive had a full life .. seen my kids grow up, have their own kids ... and even 2 grandkids have their own babies now .. 4 generations ... 

I've seen many young fit mum's with little ones, loose their fight with cancer .. an amazing lass who was friends with my daughter in law,  lost her fight a little while ago, at 31 years old with two young children ..l cryed for a few days .. sobbed really .. that overwhelming feeling of why am I here, and she isn't... plus other young ones on here... 

It's what soldgers get comming back after loosing buddies ... why did they servive ... causes so many depression... but you know, life isn't logical .. things just happen ... you may be here for a reason .. there maybe something you need to do ..maybe you can help other young ones going through cancer .. it's not just about raising money .. it can be giving your time .. and it would mean the world for them to see you beat it ... then they may be able to ... 

Ask McMillan if they could help you find something where you feel like your giving something back ... even in writting here, you give hope to other young ones going through treatment .. it's sometimes the little things that make a difference... that's what I'm doing ... not anything big .. just helping others through this scary time ..

So please don't ask why ... don't feel guilty ... and one day you may find a way to pay it forward ... wer here .. so in honour of those that arnt ... take each day as a gift .. live , love and most of all laugh ... that's what those that lost their fight would want us to do ...  sending you a vertual hug.... Chrissie ❤ 

Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 06:45 in response to IsabelH

Hi izzy after what Chriss put there's not much else to say, I lost my son and his wife both in their early thirtys they left us a lovely granddaughter, i also lost my elder brother quite quickly, I'm not curable have been over three years now, I'm on forum quite a lot trying to help others it's way vocation now I can't do much for myself but if I help others with cancer, or relax some waiting for tests or results I feel I'm helping I'm looking after my disabled wife she needs 24 /7 care so I don't hardly get out apart from hospital appointments, a friend comes to look after my wife wile I'm away, as I said before Chris has a way with words, a lot better than me, best wishes.. Billy 

Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 21:43 in response to IsabelH

Hi isabel

to be diagnosed with something so serious at anytime is traumatic but to go through this at a young age must be doubly so.  Ive no doubt it has had a huge impact on your quality of life and missing out on teenage stuff. I was wondering if you’ve ever had counselling to address how you feel? 

Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 22:01 in response to IsabelH

Hi Izzy,

You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about - but that has never stopped anyone innocent from feeling guilty! 

There is so much media and societal pressure for people with cancer to be warriors, heroes, heroines and the rest. This  is all just unhelpful bullsh1t which makes many of us feel inadequate. We didn't choose to have cancer and our bravery or otherwise is very personal. 

As Chrissie says, PTSD in cancer survivors is increasingly being recognised as a serious and common condition. Putting a label on it may help some people and it certainly raises awareness that this isn't unusual and that it doesn't make us inadequate freaks. 

Getting so upset isn't that unusual but maybe you could try to seek some professional health. In an ideal World the NHS would be as good at dealing with the emotional and mental health impacts of cancer as it is at dealing with the physical side of the condition, but it isn't. 

Both Maggies and MacMillans offer help, support and advice for cancer survivors - if you think it might help, why not contact them?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that many of us are in or have been in a very similar situation and your feelings are quite understandable given the circumstances. 


Best wishes


Why do I feel so guilty?

7 Sep 2019 22:40 in response to Magpiemaggie

Thank you everyone for your advice and for letting me know I’m not crazy or alone in this. I can’t say I’ve ever sought help because I’ve never honestly thought my feelings were legitimate and assumed they would just disappear with time but its reassuring to know there’s research around this. I definitely think I’m going to talk to my doctor soon.

Thank you all

Izzy x


Why do I feel so guilty?

8 Sep 2019 13:21 in response to IsabelH

Isobel - so glad you’re thinking of going to your GP about this. As some have said there is some psychological help at some cancer centres but if you go down that route please make sure they are qualified registered mental health professionals. Don’t know where you are in the country but you should look at something like this

do come back and let us know how you get on, there are other options if you can’t get a NHS oncologists psychologist.

Why do I feel so guilty?

12 Sep 2019 02:36 in response to IsabelH

Hi Izzy! So, I was diagnosed at 17, and I'm 20 now. I have very similar feelings - I didn't really makw any friends in hospital, though, as I was in a more isolated ward. But one of my friends passed away suddenly about a year ago, and I've had horrible guilt in the same sort of way that you're feeling.

I did see a cancer specific psychologist, which I found to be really really useful. I don't have a whole lot of advice, but I wanted to reply just to say, I understand this feeling too - and you're absolutely not alone.

I have a friend with a rare illness (not cancer) and they're a disability activist. There have been times where I've felt guilty for using disability toilets, for example, and they've had to remind me that I'm allowed to use the tools that are there for me. We can't weigh our challenges against other people. It's hard not to feel guilty, but just because you survived, or you don't do charity events, etc doesn't mean you have to feel guilty. You dealt with something horrible, too, and however you process it is completely right.

If you need anything I'm here to chat!