For some reason I recently got to thinking about guilt in regards to a cancer diagnosis. Did we do something wrong to make this happen? Did we not eat right, did we not exercise enough, did we smoke? I remember seeing a survey for appendix cancer patients, and many had smoked before diagnosis.
I smoked for many years before my diagnosis, and did not quit smoking until 2 years after my diagnosis. If smoking is related to stress relief, having a cancer diagnosis makes it VERY hard to stop smoking. I also told myself chemotherapy can cause cancer (it is carcinogenic), and all of the radiation for CT scans was carcinogenic, so I told myself I was at least going to choose one of my carcinogens. I finally did quit after 2 years, and quit for 6 years, then started smoking again for a year (hoping to lose the weight I gained when I quit, didn’t happen). I’ve now quit again for I think 6 years? Now I don’t want to smoke and don’t even think of smoking, though I still do enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke.
Interesting, so many people are made to feel guilty if they smoke and get lung cancer, but actually only one in 10 heavy smokers get lung cancer in a lifetime, 9 out of 10 don’t. I recently talked to an oncologist who said he has many lung cancer patients who NEVER smoked, and many newly diagnosed who quit smoking many years ago. One of my physicians recently died of lung cancer 2 weeks after he was diagnosed, it had metastasized to his brain. He had never smoked. The oncologist felt smokers should not be made to feel guilty.
I think we need to be careful not to make ourselves feel like we had any part in creating our cancer. People who do everything right and have healthy lifestyles get cancer, children get cancer. Cancer is never fair and no one deserves it, not you, not me. We need to be gentle with ourselves.