Survivor’s Guilt: No One Explains How To Get Through It

I was diagnosed with stage 3-colon cancer on November 6, 2001. My last chemotherapy was on May 10, 2002. I have been cancer free since then so if my math is still correct, that makes me 12 years cancer free.

During treatment, I focused all of my energy on making it through the day. Through hair loss, nausea, other sicknesses, weakness, and all of the other related goody bag items that go with cancer treatment, I focused on getting through it.

Then, as the sands of the slow motion hourglass finally got me to my last day of chemotherapy, I reached the end. I had made it. Now my life could get back to normal.

Except the normal that I knew about was gone. Over the last 12 years, I needed to re-define what normal was for me again. I needed to look at life through a different lens. I needed to look at life through the eyes of a “Cancer Survivor.”

There is no “right way” to be a cancer survivor so I am not going to tell you how to be one. There are good days and bad. What I am struggling with today is “Survivor’s Guilt.” Being involved in the cancer community is an amazing thing. I have met some great, strong, powerful people along the way, people whose journey has been so much harder and longer than mine. I have also lost countless people along the way.


I can’t stand the term “losing their battle with cancer.” Nobody loses it. Cancer may have cut their lives much shorter than we feel it should have been but please don’t weaken them by saying they “lost.” It’s not a win/lose scenario. It’s not some sporting event where there is a clear winner and loser at the end.

I was diagnosed with stage 3-colon cancer. I have seen tons of others with the exact same diagnosis I had get worse while I get better. I have seen people with stage 4-breast cancer celebrate 20 years cancer free and I have seen people with stage 2 cancers get worse. Statistics should remain just that: statistics. We are not numbers, we are people.

I recently got word that a fellow Colondar model passed away. I never met her personally but that made no difference. She was in my Colondar family and any of their losses are also mine. I am praying for all of their comfort as the cancer cloud is heavy with all of them right now.

So how should we deal with my “Survivor’s Guilt”?

Pray to God: Thank Him for all of the blessings He has continued to pour down on us, and the blessings are plenty if we have our eyes open to see them. Here is something I wrote to help others pray for cancer patients and their families. A Prayer To God

Talk it out: It’s ok to have feelings of “why” or “why not” me. Share your feelings with your loved ones. Feel however you feel. There’s nothing wrong with you feeling sad.

Take it slow: Take it one minute, one hour, one day at time.

How do I deal with survivor’s guilt besides praying to God? I cry a little. I laugh a little. I hug my kids a little tighter. I get on my bike and go for a ride. I run. I train for events to honor cancer patients who can’t do them. I talk to my wife. I write a blog.

I don’t have all the answers about Survivor’s Guilt. Heck, I may not have any. I am just surviving, one day at a time.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

If you would like to check out some great cancer organizations please click here:

The Colon Club

Phil’s Friends


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