I Have Cried Every Day This Week - Survivors Guilt

Last updated: May 2022

There are a few things that after you are diagnosed with lung cancer you find to be very difficult to handle. The diagnosis itself is hard but then you start connecting with others and when they die it is almost harder than the diagnosis. I have a lot to say about survivors’ guilt, I have written about this topic a few times already. I have met so many great people because of this disease that it is hard to not have survivor’s guilt.

What is survivor’s guilt?

Survivors’ guilt is feelings of guilt for having survived a catastrophe in which others died. Lung cancer is a catastrophe. It sneaks its way into our lives and ravishes them. There are so many side effects, physical, emotional, and mental that come with the diagnosis it is hard to think of it any other way.

We seek out others who understand

When we are diagnosed, we often seek out others who are going through the same thing. I know when I was diagnosed, I wanted to speak to someone close to my age. I was paired with a great gal from Canada who was diagnosed at the same age as me, but she was already 5 years post-diagnosis. I was so happy to speak with her and we emailed a few times but as I was going through treatment it was hard to continue chatting.

I was attending a lung cancer conference not too much longer after that and got to meet her in person. We chatted some more and became Facebook friends. We crossed paths one more time at another cancer conference but this one was different. It was for young adult survivors, and we were 2 of 5 in the whole conference that had lung cancer. We stuck together that weekend and became even better friends. We didn’t keep in touch on a daily basis, but I always kept up with her Facebook posts and I can only assume she did the same for me.

I learned via a Facebook post that she had passed away and it struck me like a semi-truck. Here is the gal that was my support and inspiration when I was diagnosed and now, she is no longer with us. I felt guilty that I was still here, and she wasn’t.

The shock never really wears off

Most recently we lost someone in our community that I sometimes didn’t get along with. We were from two different generations and that became apparent in how we interacted and often disagreed with each other. She passed away and I felt a completely different kind of guilt. Was I too hard on her when she was alive? I cried when I heard the news, I mean she was fine last week! It is sometimes hard to remember that people had lives before they were diagnosed and just because we share a diagnosis we may not always see eye to eye. We can support each other and mourn them when they pass.

Logging onto Facebook these days can be very difficult as we never know who may announce they are seeking hospice care or even worse the news of someone passing. I will continue to advocate for lung cancer research, try to fight the stigma, and simply keep talking about lung cancer so that none of my friends will have died in vain.

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