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Survivors Guilt

Connie B

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I've been sitting here reading over some of my PM's from LC Survivors and one of the things that is brought to my attention is (Survivors Guilt & Fear)

So many of us feel guilty for being alive after we lose a dear friend to LC. We ask ourselves over and over, "Why him/her and not me?" or "Why didn't the treatment work for him/her and yet it worked for me?"

Losing a friend to lung cancer puts us in a tail spin of guilt and fear. We also worry "Will I be next?" Or "Who will be next?"

I know that several of my LC Friends feel this way after we lose a friend to lung cancer, and I know that I feel this way after I lose a friend or family member to lung cancer. Yet, I know it's out of my control and I know I had nothing to do with why I lost my friend, or how and why it happened to him/her and not me.

I thought it might be comforting or helpful in some way to chat about this issue with one another. I know it's real because I get PM's that tell me your hurting and feeling guilty, your scared and your sad, as am I.

What do you think we could do for one another to help us through this process of lc survivor guilt and fear after we lose a dear friend or family member to lung cancer?

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Well Connie, you KNOW I am one of those you're talking about :? . I don't know what any of us can do to help us when this feeling takes over..............maybe just knowing that we aren't the only one dealing may be enough for some.

Many of you have been here much longer than I and have experienced more losses here at LCSC. But I remember the first one for me. It was Betty, and I was just swept away in grief. I PM'd Katie wanting to know what to do. Since then, there have been oh ~ so many more. And with each one I go through all the same emotions again and again.

I was dx Sept. '04 and had surgery Jan. '05, so it is 2-1/2 years since dx and 25 months since surgery. I remember Snowflake saying that she just let the first 2 years go by while 'worrying' about all the what if's ~ and then realized those years had just slipped away. I tried to not do the same thing, but haven''t always been successful.

There is so much hope here.......but when I read of our good friends who are struggling and not making it........I wonder if others are wondering too.....why not Kasey? Maybe this is what will be part of our new 'normal' forever ~ don't know. But you have certainly given us food for thought.



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When someone dies of lung cancer I feel sadness, I feel bad or pain depending on how close we where but not guilty because I'm alive. I can't imagine one who was dieing would want someone to feel guilty that they are still alive. I don't think am I going to be next or who is going to be next or gee it should have been that person instead. Regardless of what happens to me I want nothing but the best for someone else and for them to live life to the fullest the best way they know how for as long as they can.

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[Connie B] We ask ourselves over and over, "Why him/her and not me?"

I imagine any competent psychologist could write a book on that question. It's asked after natural disasters, terrorist events, aircraft accidents, wartime losses, and across the spectrum of human experience. Part of the conflict may be that we feel an intense need to celebrate our own good fortune (or lack of misfortune) but are inhibited from doing so out of consideration for those not as fortunate. Another part may be that we don't want to "push our luck."

A smaller scale example here on the LCSC forums is what we do after getting a good scan report. We might make a separate post about it and enjoy reading the responses from others, or we may simply make an addition to our profile without bringing attention to it otherwise. I've handled it both ways, and that's probably typical of most members. A lot depends on how we're feeling at the time and what accounts from others -- upbeat versus heartrending -- we've read recently.

Every time we deal with this conflict we make a small but cumulative adjustment to our "new normal." That's like saying "live and learn," and it's important to do both. Aloha,


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You guys really hit the nail on the head. I'm feeling guilty about posting good reports. Am I giving others hope, or just flaunting my good luck in their faces?

Still I need the connection to this site. My hubby, my friends, coworkers can't come close to understanding. Only the folks here really understand what this diagnosis does.

I notice that I act out at home and work when I leave the site for a few days. The rest of the world is living in another dimension, and I'm walking through their world but I can't relate.

As I recall the Vietnam vets had trouble assimilating into society too. Maybe it's similar problem for us?


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I don't ask myself "Why me?" Either positive or negative, the reply to comes back is always "Why NOT you?"

I didn't choose to have this disease and be in the minority. My "happily ever after" has been soiled a bit, and the blissful naivete ignorance of mortality. Suddenly, I know what the last page of the book holds - it doesn't matter how many pages are between "Once upon a time..." and "The End", the last page is still the same. There's a realization that eventually, everyone dies, and that was always how the story would end, we were just happy to not see it.

I do not have guilt over living, I have guilt over NOT living. I feel guilty when I realize that I am just EXISTING and I KNOW I should be experiencing life because we all only get one chance. When work or the extended family drama start to drag me down, I have to wake up and realize that life is what I make of it and I owe it to my friends, Fay A., Addie, FRANK, BeckyG, Happy Dancin' Bet, Blue Bayou Francine, BobMc, DavidA, DeanCarl, GrumpyOneLung, T-Bone, Peggy's Don, Ginny's Earl, and sooooo many more, to wring every drop of life out of it that I can.

I need to stop and feel the rain on my face, smell the flowers, give a hug - because that's really what it's all about. Don't feel guilty for living, feel guilty if you are alive and NOT living.

...but that's not to say I don't miss them, nor that I don't feel a loss that they are gone. I wish their books of life had contained more pages, they had so much to share...

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Gee Connie...for once I am lost for words... :) No..I don't feel guilty for living..I'm sure that is God's plan thus far...but as far as some of our friends having a hard time...and then lose some...that's when I feel a part of me dying...I get sooo sad and depressed and really can't handle it well...I actually cry for people that I don't even know but they are my very dear friend thru this board...and as far as posting good news...Yes!! I want to post good news...gives our other friends hope..that' we're alive and the chance of surviving for the long haul is there...

The thought never leaves my mind about LC...but as far as when it's my turn...I try not to think about that ...that would really send me over the edge...I alway's ask our Good Lord to just give me the strength and courage to handle what ever is in store for me...and with the faith that I have...that is what I rely on... In the meantime till the last breath in my body...I will be praying for a cure..

May the Good Lord Bless us and be with us alway's..

Love to all...PamS.

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I've been thinking about this for a couple of days now and still don't know if I have an answer. Ned and Becky have covered a lot of my feelings - thank you both for putting it so eloquently for me.

I don't have guilt feelings about surviving, someone has to make up the positive side of the stats and it might as well be me, I think what I have is an awkwardness when I'm asked what I did extra/special to survive. I can list off the tx, supplements, reike, Lovenox, prayer but I don't know why I'm still here, I have no idea why the tx worked for me but not Addie when we had the same dx. I could give the flip answer that God's not finished with me yet (Addie and I had a good laugh just before she died that she was far more special than me because He wanted her home and not me!), but I don't feel that I have a special reason to be alive - no epiphany here yet.

I know it's only being asked as a lifeboat strategy but I truly don't know what to say. I feel sadness when friends here don't make it and sometimes wonder if my good results are encouraging to someone struggling or just rubbing their nose in it that I made it.

So, am I feeling guilty? No, I'm going on with my life which is remarkably ordinary considering how precarious thing were five years ago.


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While I'm only a five month surviver so far, I have come to some amazing conclusions recently. I feel that I am very blessed to have been diginosed with this desiase. (Katie, we really need a spell check on here!!) I was driving from Tampa to West Palm this weekend and saw so many of those memorials signs on the side of the road. All I could think of was so many die and never know it's coming. I know it's coming. I don't know when, and really, I don't know how (anything could happen), but I'm ready. I've improved the relationships I wanted to improve, I got in contact with people I wanted to talk to, i forgave people that I never thought I'd forgive, I have my affairs in order, I have a talking relationship with God, and I'm at peace. Now comes the good part, I just need to live my life. Before I thought people were so rude and all exsited in their own little world. Now I walk into a store and everyone smiles at me and most say hello. Then it dawned on me. The world didn't change, I did. I must be smiling at them to make them respond to me like that. See how blessed I am. I would never have learned these lessons if I hadn't been diagnoised. I'd propbably just end up a memorial on the side of the road. Will I survive long term? I really hope so. I have a lot I'm still looking forward too. Will I feel guilty if I do? No. And if I don't survive this, I don't want any of you feeling guilty either. I have many people tell me that God will heal me. And I tell them he will, if it is his plan. And if it isn't, I'm good with that too. Hugs, Liz

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