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I Feel Cheated as a Cancer Survivor

Article

Cancer took so many experiences away from me, yet I sometimes feel guilty that I survived and others did not.

Being a cancer survivor, there are those moments that unexpectedly just hit me and make me feelcheated in life. It can either feel like I have lost something inside of me or it can be the worry about the unexpected path that might be ahead of me. It can also be the guilt of my existence as a survivor that presents itself at a certain moment because I don’t believe that I deserve to be alive.

It’s hard to explain these type feelings and emotions to my loved ones. Many times, I have felt different emotions like anger or extreme sadness, and I often feel very misunderstood.

The other day I went outside to rip apart an enormous wild cedar bush that had grown next to our house. I recently had felt those waves of emotions hit me over the days prior because I lost a friend to cancer, and I also had some physical pains that made me worry my cancer might have returned. It felt good to take my aggregations out on doing something physical with my hands instead of navel gazing and worrying about something I could not control at the time. It’s this type of physical therapy that gets me past those moments.

I have sat in my therapist's office trying to explain these feelings and left with no real clarification. Sometimes it helps me to just let others know these feelings exist in my life. I tell them that they can’t fix how I feel because it’s about my survivorship. I just make sure they know it’s OK to be in that moment with me.I'm not rejecting them; I am just trying to get through that moment. I’m certain It won’t be the last time I feel this way. It is something I am learning to accept but I don’t expect others in my life to understand. 

There is an unexplained sadness that lives with cancer survivorship. I think that’s what causes the survivor’s guilt that I struggle with so much as I try to move forward in our survivorship. Sometimes I feel like an imposter in a foreign land because I survived cancer.

There have also been a lot of missed opportunities because of my disease and sometimes I just feel cheated. I have spent some time the past couple of years trying to regain some of the times I had missed while I was in treatment for my cancer. Unfortunately, those days just can’t be regained.

There are days I feel the guilt of my own survivorship. I can choose to stand with it or deny its existence. I can make the choice to move ahead from it and not allow it to overtake and consume me. Cancer didn’t take me down and today I moved forward. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that fact.

I’m not perfect and I make mistakes. I give back the best way I can no matter how cruel the world may be by denying the survivorship to the ones I love in the cancer community. As cancer survivors, we need each other in this world because no one should have to battle cancer alone. We need to do better as humanity because life is a gift that shouldn’t be denied to anyone. Everyone should have access to the health care they may need. No one should be cheated out of that opportunity.

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