Are Cancer Survivors Selfish?

The other day a friend posted an angry rant on Facebook about racist names of sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks. In my endless quest to find happiness post-cancer, my reaction was, naturally: “Calm the f&*k down. Life is way too short to get worked up about those things.” But then I thought about how it was truly unfair that we treat native Americans so poorly, and, for a moment, I felt bad about my reaction. 

Which brings me to my next point: Are cancer survivors selfish? I often find myself having a similar reaction as the one above to people who gripe about the world’s injustices. I also see lots of stories on survivor message boards about people who were in good relationships pre-cancer, but then after cancer their significant others break things off because they feel the cancer survivor is only thinking of him or herself.

My uneducated explanation is that a brush with fatality makes us turn inward and realize that life is short and all we really want to do with our time here on earth is be happy. That might sometimes mean that other people’s drama or other people’s causes get pushed to the side in favor of our own passions and pursuits. 

Of course, maybe it’s just me. I’d love to hear what others think – cancer survivors and non-cancer survivors! 

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8 responses to “Are Cancer Survivors Selfish?

  1. nowimconsidering

    I am selfish now. I left my partner of 7 years, who is an amazing woman who stayed with me through cancer. Why? Because it was mediocre and uninspiring. There was love, but no passion.
    Am I selfish? Yes. Am I an idiot? Possibly. But I’m not willing to settle anymore. I don’t care if it hurts, at least I am living. None of us will be here forever. I’d rather have a broken heart or be alone than to just get by.

  2. Great post and good insight! I am not sure if I am more selfish now after having battled cancer and won, but I do look at the world in a different way. I am grateful for each day and want to celebrate life, not get bogged down in the petty details that are unimportant.

  3. i don’t think cancer patients are selfish. I think they might be, or at least I am, less patient. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it isn’t. I also think sometimes these two things get mixed up and we are perceived to be selfish when really it’s more that we’re impatient. Does this make sense? Thanks for your very interesting thoughts.

  4. Totally bloody selfish…. and so we should be – settling is just not good enough. I’m still mid-treatment, fairly sure we’ll not finish it together though…! :(

  5. Hi I’m not a cancer survivor on the partner of a cancer survivor,do I see her being selfish now ? Yes definitely ,she is a changed person has holidays without me now,goes out without me now,I’m hanging in there but for how much longer I don’t know,everyday I fight the urge to walk out and leave her to herself because that’s all she thinks about.even when I’m included there’s an alterior goal for her own benevolence.cancer ruins more lives than just the survivor.

    • Thank you for sharing this and sorry things are rocky with your relationship. I wonder if you have both talked through some of your feelings? Obviously communicating is the best way to work through these kinds of issues. You shouldn’t have to put up with anything you don’t want to put up with, but make sure she knows how you feel and give her a chance to try and reconcile, if that’s what you both want.

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