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Shifting Focus: Survivor vs. Living Being

When you survive a life-threatening disease like cancer, there is a transition period where patients learn how to incorporate that experience into their lives moving forward. For me, survival was a mixed bag of emotions. I felt a sense of intense optimism and gratitude that I believed could help champion people to survival. But soon, I was grounded by the reality that not every story ends like mine. My optimism quickly developed a dark undertone that followed my survival everywhere I went.

How could I feel sad or angry about anything when I felt like it was a privilege just to be alive? Sometimes things don’t seem so bad when you have the perspective of a life-threatening sickness, but experiencing this guilt is part of the challenge of survivorship.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Daniel Malito moderator
    9 months ago

    Much of my guilt came from the buden I put on my family and others around me. I even felt guilty that I was taking away the ER docs from other patients – how crazy is that? I kept apologizing as I almost dying, as if someone was keeping score of my politeness. It’s a natural feeling that comes along with being ill, and you are right in the fact that we all have to find a way to encorporate it into our lives. Well said. Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito ( Team Member)

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