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It is normal for some people to wonder whether they did things that caused their cancer to recur. People feel guilty for a number of reasons:

  • They worry about how their family and friends feel.
  • They envy other people's good health and are ashamed of this feeling.
  • They blame themselves for certain lifestyle choices.
  • They feel guilty that their first treatment didn't work.
  • They wonder if they waited too long to go back to the doctor. Or they fear that they didn't follow the doctor's instructions the right way.

It is important to remember that the treatment failed you. You didn't fail the treatment. We can't know why cancer returns in some people and not others.  

It is important for you to try to:
  • Focus on things worthy of your time and energy.
  • Let go of any mistakes you think you may have made.
  • Forgive yourself.

You may want to share these feelings with your loved ones. Some people blame themselves for upsetting the people they love or worry that they'll be a burden to others. If you feel this way, take comfort knowing that many family members say that it is an honor and a privilege to care for their loved one. Many consider it a time when they can share experiences and become closer to one another. Others say that caring for someone else makes them take life more seriously and causes them to reevaluate their priorities.

If you don't feel that you can talk openly about these things with your loved ones, getting counseling or joining a support group may also help. Let your health care team know if you would like to talk with someone about your feelings.

For information about guilt in general and how to deal with it, click here.