Person lays head on table looking worriedly at birthday cake with candles

My Upcoming Birthday and Survivor's Guilt

Last updated: September 2022

Something that I think can be really weird while being a full-time cancerland resident is birthdays. I have another one coming up next month, and honestly, the whole concept is confusing now. I used to dread another year down, and really have a hard time with growing older. Now I celebrate the fact that I get to age, despite what a statistic says.

A term that I have become all too familiar with, especially lately, is survivor's guilt. I think this type of thing can look different to everyone, but to me, it means that I can feel guilty living my life when we lose so many loved ones to this crappy disease. Being more involved in the community shows me that the losses stack up every day, and we can’t seem to avoid them.

Celebrating birthdays with MBC

It’s important to acknowledge the difficulty in celebrating a birthday while living with metastatic breast cancer. I’m sure it is not the same for everyone, but almost everyone feels some kind of way when their birthday approaches.

One feeling that comes to mind is the feeling of having another year pass you by. Did I accomplish my goals? What even were my goals? Have I made enough memories with my loved ones? Those thoughts are common when living in the every day, but they sure can be amplified when another return around the sun approaches.

The flip side of this feeling is what a joy it is to get to celebrate another year of life. A year of photographs and laughs, wonder and adventure, and exploration of life.

Living in the moment

It can sound super annoying to hear all the time, but it really is important to live in the moment when navigating this kind of stuff. Anxiety is commonly rooted in the “what ifs” of life, and things that have not happened yet. That can be all-consuming if it is weighing too heavily on the mind. It’s also really tough to recognize these feelings, and it can be difficult to put them to words. Finding things that bring you joy, even the smallest things, can be helpful in times like those.

Every day we are faced with living a life for ourselves or other people. Sometimes, we have no choice, especially when it comes to a clinic day. Most times, however, we do have a choice. It took a lot to realize that I was constantly putting myself on the back burner, but since I started doing things that filled my cup instead of emptying it, it really changed my perspective on things.

What brings us to this community

It can take people years and decades to come to this conclusion, and that can come with feelings of regret. For me, it kind of sucks to have to be faced with my own mortality to fast-track this kind of thought process. It is almost bitter-sweet to find this community because it is filled with so many beautiful minds, but also the one thing that brings us here is one of the hardest things to have to go through.

Each year, as another birthday comes and goes, I love to give cancer the big middle finger and say hey I made it another year. I’m going to make it another.

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