Mesothelioma Survivor: Don’t Fall Into the ‘Why Me’ Trap

Stories from Survivors

It seems one of the most common reactions people have when faced with serious trials and hardships – right after thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening,” – is to ask, “Why me?” 

While this is a common and perhaps normal response to traumatic or upsetting events like a mesothelioma diagnosis, I strongly believe that unchecked it is one of the most destructive thought patterns we can entertain. 

While most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are age 60 or older, the percentage of younger people developing this cancer has increased. I was 46 when I was diagnosed with it, and I know there have been many people diagnosed with mesothelioma when they were much younger. 

‘Why Me’ Questions Cause Stress

The question “why me” simply does not have an answer. Even if we did know, it would not change our circumstances at all. That said, I don’t believe we ask “why me” because we think understanding why will really help us. It’s a way to try to overcome the smothering sense of being overwhelmed. It is an intellectual diversion. 

Diverting our minds from dwelling on fearful things is generally good. But the problem with the question “why me?” is that it plays directly into feelings of self-pity, helplessness, anger and doubt. I know that negative thoughts and attitudes drastically affect my own ability to cope with my illness. Stress simply makes me sick, and hardly anything does more to cause stress than anger, frustration, etc. 

This stress is not only in our minds, it affects our bodies in a variety of ways – and none of them are good for us. Our heart rates go up, our blood pressure increases, our pain levels spiral upward and so on. Controlling our minds is paramount to our ability to overcome our physical trials. 

Controlling Emotions Can Be Difficult

Unfortunately, when we are not well, it can be very difficult to control our emotions. We feel like we have had all we can take. It’s worth noting that the temptation to say “why me” not only occurs when we are first diagnosed, but it can sneak into all kinds of situations. Why did my prescription not get filled in the time it was supposed to? Why did they mess up my bill? Why do I have to go here or there? Why me? 

Instead of allowing these thoughts to fester, find something to be thankful for and think of those things: “I’m glad I am able to get medication;” “I’m thankful that I can get treatment;” “I’m thankful that so-and-so is willing to take me here or there, or that I’m able to take myself.” 

Take things as they come, one step at a time. Don’t get angry, don’t have self-pity, and never fall into the trap of “Why me?”

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