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Press brakes on the guilt trip.

This one’s necessary. Absolutely necessary. One of the most difficult states of mind for a cancer patient, is guilt. The incessant guilt of making lives of family members hard, the guilt of not being able to do enough, the guilt of finance problems, the guilt of losing opportunities. This state of mind chooses to occur at any given moment, especially when the person is undergoing a heap of emotions, whether, pain, fear, anger or sorrow. Any emotion, can rein in guilt, building on depression.

So, as a family member or friend, it is utmost important to put a brake on this guilt trip and work towards a neutral state of mind if nothing else. Now, how can one do that?

Number 1. Tell the person, that it is not their fault that cancer chose to happen. Cancer like all diseases, does not discriminate between any person, and strikes. If anything, cancer makes a person find strength and resilience, when the person never thought he/she had in them to fight it.

Number 2. Tell the patient, that just like them, family members also develop the courage and strength to help fight the disease. That strength comes in the form of everyday care, jokes, trips, fights and laughter. Any moment that a family goes through together, builds each and every one of them.

Number 3. Tell the person, that guilt like all negative emotions, takes away the mental capacity to fight the disease. And for all means and purposes, the mind needs to fight the cancer too. Mental and emotional strength go a long way in dealing with this disease.

There are many other ways to end any form of guilt tripping, and each family has its own coping mechanism. Dad often feels really guilty for making it difficult for Mum or kids, but I’ve never felt it that way. Yes, there is worry, angst, and fear of the future, but not one that paints Dad as a guilty person. Always challenging this guilty feeling, is another aspect of positivity that can change the way a cancer patient feels about himself/herself, and that goes a long way.

Pic credit — New Yorker / Google Images

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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