Guilt for living?

It has been about a year and a half since my diagnosis. At taht time i was given 3-12 months to live. Obviously I had other plans. I am still in pretty good health and do not intend to go anywhere anytime soon. I plan to be one of the long term survivors that defy all expectations.
But here is my issue... Yesterday a friend's mother in law died from brain cancer. I am still not sure if it was the exact same kind as mine, but that seems irrelevant to me right now. See, she was only diagnosed less than two months ago. Granted she was older and had been through other medical issues as well. But boom. just like that, she is gone. She didn't even finish her first round of treatment.
I understand that things work differently in different people and no two cancers are the same. I just cannot help feeling guilty that she is gone and i am here. How will I ever be able to look her son and grandchildren in the face knowing i lived and she didn't even really have a chance to fight?
My husband says that what would have been unfair would be for me to die and leave my small children without a mother and for this woman, who has lived a longer life, to have lived. I can see his logic, i would never wish that level of pain on my children/family....but i don't wish it for my friend's family either. I have known them since childhood. I love them all as if they were my blood.
I am quite confused. I wish i could erase thier pain.


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Cancer has a mind of its own. One moment it will take an otherwise healthy person and the next a frail elderly person will survive. It is not much use for us to ask why things turned out the way they did because there are simply too many factors at play to make any sense of it. Maybe doctors will get it all figured out but in some respects cancer behaves like a predatory wild animal.

    I have known a few folks taken by cancer since my own diagnosis. You're right, why them and not me? I have no idea but I do know that I am not finished here. I am sad for the families of my friends but I am also happy that my friends are no longer suffering. Death is not all bad and I think that helps me.
  • For me, I have to think that if I'm sticking around it's for a reason. I don't know if it's to be a voice and an advocate for those who can't or who've lost their fight. I don't know if it's to raise awareness in general. I haven't figured it out yet. But there has to be a reason that I'm here and they're not. Alot of it is sheer chance, but it's not all random.
  • You must not feel guilty for being alive. You ought to feel very lucky to have life and to continue on. Be grateful instead.
  • Q4lifeQ4life Community Member
    For me I am healing. I danced with death & was allowed a second dance with life, so I am gonna make the best of it. I intend on leaving anyone I encounter better than the way I met them. Have fun & try not to compare my experience or belittle others for not having my frequency of awareness. Just operate from a place of clear boundaries. Look at what comes up & love myself past my own self imposed judgements. Get real clear how I want to live my life from this point on. Wish you all well.
  • juls4juls4 Community Member
    Guilt isn't a fun feeling, but I admire that you are grateful enough for the life you have that you can look at the unfairness happening to other people and empathize. You have the opportunity to recognize people who are having a tough time and may be able to do something (even a little something) to help them and that's huge. Most people get so caught up in their own problems they don't see what other people are struggling with. I was a lot like you when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I felt this strong sense of pain and sadness for others whether they had diabetes, mobility issues, cancer, whatever, because I think pain and loss is the basis for any of these, so really we're all the same. I find now that I'm Stage 4 I'm losing that and feeling more resentful toward those that have more than me, and I keep feeling like a victim despite desperately wanting to go back to being the empathetic person I was. Hang on to that gratitude and I bet you'll pass it on to your kids and a lot of the people you come into contact with each day. Nothing wrong with feeling the sadness, but leave the guilt out of it. You would never wish this on anyone, so there's nothing to feel guilty about. You both went through something terrible, you both fought, and for reasons out of your control, you're here and she's not. Would you want someone to feel guilty if you passed away? Or would you rather they take advantage of the time they have left?