Am I selfish?

In February, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was a week after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My family and friends are more concerned with what my mother is going through and how I’m handling her news. She’s having surgery tomorrow and it feels like I’m about to have the weight of the world thrown at me. I’m trying to stay positive but everyone cares about her illness and I’m left to deal with mine alone. I don’t know how to tell my family what I need while they are preoccupied with my mothers surgery and recovery. Am I being selfish because I want someone to be supporting me and my condition?


I'm sorry about your diagnosis and your mother's as well. That's a lot to take in and deal with on both of your parts. You must be feeling quite a bit of grief around both diagnoses.

Fibro is one of those illnesses that very few people can truly wrap their heads around. In time, people can learn to educate themselves about it and evolve sympathy for its sufferers, but many times it takes people time to reach that point Right now they're more concerned about your mom because colon cancer can be deadly, but fibro apparently isn't.

You can point them in the correct direction with educational materials, but it might not be the best time to try it right now. I think a better course of action might be to come here to let off some of your steam and stress and then educate them when your mother's situation has stabilized. Of course, you need to have your own situation acknowledged and have some help and support from your family. Maybe introducing those concepts to your family a bit at a time would be effective, especially since they are dealing with the grief of your mother's diagnosis.

Please feel free to utilize the discussions and blogs as much as you need to. I think they might become a real lifeline for you at this particular time. You'll find so many helpful souls here that you won't lack for a sympathetic ear.

Gentle hugs of understanding,


No, Karrina, I do not think you are being selfish in wanting someone to support you and your condition. But your family has been hit with two different but life-changing illnesses to two of their family members and that's a lot to take in at one time. So they have a lot of learning and adjusting to do. Whenever the word cancer is used people get very desperate and just don't know what to do, but likely recognise that it could be fatal. On the other hand fibromyalgia is a lifelong chronic illness so they are left prioritising the two. Right now they are focused on your Mom who has surgery tomorrow and what the results tell them. I don't think they can be faulted for focusing on your mother at this time. She is your mother too so I think your focus should be on your mom while you read and learn about fibromyalgia. There is a lot for you to learn before you sit down with your family and share with them about your illness and what you need of them.

I sincerely hope that your mom's surgery goes well and that it was found early enough that with treatment she will have some more years with the family. Then they can take a big sigh and once the treatment your mom is scheduled for and those arrangements are made, then they can turn their attention to you as they learn from you what this fibromyalgia is and how they can support you through this journey.

I know it's not easy, but at this time I think you should also be focused on your mother until that is taken care of. Then I'm sure your family will turn to you prepared to learn about this chronic illness that you are dealing with.

Be patient with one another. Please keep us updated with your mother's surgery results and with their attention toward you.

Gentle hugs


Hi Karina,
I don’t think you are selfish at all. People typically get scared when they hear the word cancer yet few truly understand fibromyalgia and you may look fine on the outside so it is easy for everyone to overlook your needs while you are suffering in silence. It sounds like you have had a lot to deal with in the last few months and never really had time to absorb what the diagnosis means for you and your life before attention quickly shifted to your mom. I hope you have at least one person who can be there for you during this difficult time. If not, as others have said, please take advantage of his site because here you will find a group of people who understand and are here to support you.

yes no one really gets what this condition is like. Since I recently had a diagnosis of heart attack with possible secondaries in my lungs, everyone understands. But you know it’s not the heart attack or the lung issues that trouble me it’s the fibromyalgia. Only people who experience fibromyalgia understand,(that’s why this site is so important) and I suspect this will be the case until the condition is accepted by the medical profession. yes we have a lot to put up with. but it’s the lack of understanding this condition that makes it so much worse, and so much harder to tolerate and cope with. Take a deep breathe, believe in yourself, and be kind to yourself. barb

Hi Karrina,

I'm sorry to hear about your Mom, please keep us posted on how she's doing. I don't think you're being selfish, look at this definition:


1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself.

I think the fact that you are questioning this and feeling guilty over it shows that you aren't thinking of only yourself. Anyone with an illness feels this way from time to time, especially the 'invisible' illnesses -- you just want to say 'look at me! I'm sick, give me some attention, help me!' We struggle so much every day, and with your Mom now being sick all of the focus is on her, leaving you feeling even more alone with this.

Another problem many of us face is that even though we are so sick, we still tend to give too much to others. We do much more than we can handle, and spread ourselves too thin, because we can't seem to say 'no' to anyone for various reasons. So really, we all need to learn to be more selfish when it comes to our health, and demand that we get the proper care.

Right now is an extremely stressful time for you. I think if you can focus on your Mom today and get over this hurdle, you'll be able to think clearer and feel better about this. Remember that you have to take care of yourself first, because if you get sick, you won't be able to help anyone else. Just keep coming here, you can vent to us anytime and we will always listen!


I don't think that's selfish at all. I too am feeling that kind of feeling, but in a different situation. I'm in the process of being diagnosed with fibro, but my husband was diagnosed with bipolar about 6 months ago. We have two young children and I'm in school full time. I feel like I am constantly having to hold up our family, while everyone else worries about how he's doing, what can they do to make it easier for him. It's very frustrating and I too feel sometimes that I'm being selfish but then I stop and think that if I don't worry about myself who will. I have a hard time telling people when I need help or how they can help me. I hope just knowing your aren't the only one who feels they need support that they aren't getting helps you feel a little better and realize it doesn't make you selfish. We are human and we all need support and help sometimes.


Hi Karrina, I’ll clarify the statements below by telling you I’ve had fibromyalgia for a number of decades, and My symptoms are not always as bad as some other forum members. If I had a choice between fibromyalgia and cancer, I’d choose the fibro. I’m not trying to down play fibromyalgia, it can be a debilitating disease (syndrome) but to the best of my knowledge it is not life threatening, and although it does move from place to place it apparently does not actually do physical damage.

That doesn’t mean living with fibromyalgia is easy, it’s not, and it can over time, as you will have seen from the discussions, be disabling. I have lost 6 of my close family to cancer, and a number of aunt’s and cousins as well, so the word "cancer scares me.

I hope your Mom’s surgery went well today, and that she makes a full and speedy recovery. I’m sure your family and friends need to prioriize their energy, and I think it’s good that they are concerned about how you are handling your mom’s crisis. There will be lots of time for them to support you once she has had the surgery and gone through other treatments and when they have a better understanding of fibromyalgia.

Are you being selfish…no, you’re going through the shock of knowing you’re got a chronic illness You need support and you’ve come to the right place to learn more about FMS, make friends and communicate with people who live with it.

Gentle Hugs


just a couple of points, just because they (the researchers)haven’t found any pathology it doesn’t mean that no pathology exists. For example there are 45 neurotransmitters that transmit messages from one neurone to another, (the cells that Cymbalta and LYrica act on) of the 45 neurotransmitters, they only know the function of 25. So how the body works is not fully understood, although many Practise medicine as if they know it all. the other thing is that the was a young women in the UK who died of ME and she on postmortem was found to have pathological changes to the function of the spine. I had to say something.Barb

Hi Barb I hope I didn’t imply that there is no pathological reasons for fibromyalgia I personally agree with you that they just haven’t found it yet. I’m hoping the new discovery concerning nerves in the hands, feet and other studies identifying differences in the brain, central nervous system . will be steps in moving forward to solving the mystery. I need to do some research on the woman in the UK but have you ever heard of someone dying from FMS or specific damage that has been done to the body? Maybe I’ve missed something.

I’m also not trying to down play the mental aspects of the pain, cognitive problems, fatigue and depression that a lot of fibro patients encounter as I’ve been fighting with them for years


it seems that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are mixed with a diagnosis of ME. The woman I refer to I think her name was Hooper, anyway she was treated in a psychiatric hospital!

she died at home anyway.

maybe I misunderstood you, I am not the best these days but I had to respond. Cheers Barb

Hum barb that's interesting news about fibro. There is so much that is as yet unknown about it. Surely by now we should expect more doctors to listen to us, there shouldn't be so many doctors who still don't believe that it exists.


Australia may well be behind USA.I have been hospitalized twice in the last three years for illness not related to fibromyalgia, and the first hospitalization the resident doctor just told be that he didn’t believe me about pain because he watched me when I wasn’t looking and I seemed OK to him.

During the recent hospitalization I spent time in ICU and medical ward with serious illnesses, at no time did any doctor, and I saw lots, even mention fibromyalgia, it was as if it didn’t exist and certainly didn’t enter into consideration with discharge planning.

So I guess I just have to speak up and say how it is keeping in mind that Australia has a long way to go with this condition. That’s how it is for me. barb

It's like they are living in the Dark Ages as far as Fibro is concerned, Barb and that is unforgivable. And so it leads to needless suffering on the patient's part. If you were in a pain flare it might lead one to scream at them!!


perhaps be thankful where you live! barb

As I read some of the answers to this discussion...I am trying to remember what it was about...I do believe it went off topic! I don't recall anyone saying they weren't thankful for where they live. I'm grateful everyday living here in Canada and for the excellent care my doctor provides. Now for the topic at hand.

Dear Karrina,

I am very sorry that both you and your mom are going through this. I think both illnesses have to be taken seriously, but the urgency right now is your mom and understandably as one of the other members pointed out we are all terrified upon here we have cancer and we know it can cause death. I'm sure your family loves you and once your mom has the surgery and able to start treatments, they will be more than willing to listen to you and how even the worry of your mom will add stress and give you pain. It's ok to be selfish in the sense of taking care of your needs and we are all here to support you so that you are not alone. Take complete advantage of that until the family has time to absorb everything that is happening. I have both fibro and cancer and for me my cancer is the priority at the moment so it is too for my family. Just a scarier diagnosis! Doesn't lessen the other. The priority has just changed for the moment.

Please keep us posted how your mom is doing and if you need a friend I'll be more than happy to listen :)

Warm hugs,


Yes I think maybe the secondary cancer and heart attack have influenced my reading of these comments, maybe now is the time to bow out of my membership. Good luck to all. Barb

Barb, surely you can't be serious. I hope not. We need you.

Tell me you are not serious.

Gentle hugs


barb, I’m not sure why you would bow out, we need you. I definitely didn’t take offense by your comments. We all have different perspectives on things and read things differently. That’s one of the benefits of this forum, we are all different, we see things different and if you read something different than I intended; others may have too. Besides we need as many Barb’s as we can on the forum(lol).

Gentle hugs B2chi (Barb)