Sunday, September 6, 2015

Does a Positive Attitude Help?

Attitude is often discussed in cancer world.  For a while it was common to tell cancer patients that if they kept a positive attitude, they might be able to fight cancer.  At one point in time, it became controversial in breast cancer cases. Women felt like they were being forced to put on a happy face while facing a serious battle for their life, a stereotypical expectation of women. A coworker with breast cancer once told me that it really pissed her off when people told her to be happy.  She said it was as if people were blaming her for her cancer.

When Ted was first diagnosed, I didn't have any happy thoughts.  I had horrible thoughts. I took what the doctors said to heart and bawled for a year. Family and friends told me to think positively- that my thoughts would somehow change his outcome. They gave him a year to live, maybe less.  I couldn't see beyond the prognosis, and nothing was going to change my attitude. It's a good thing my attitude didn't have an impact on his outcome. Ted, on the other hand, never felt stress.  He never worried or cried or talked about his impending doom, but he didn't have a choice in that.  Once they removed the right frontal lobe, they took away his ability to feel stress.  He considers it a blessing.  It's like a constant drip of Lorazepam.

So does attitude make a difference? Either the attitude of the patient or caregiver? I've never seen any significant research that says it does, but  I do know that freeing my mind of the fear and anxiety, certainly made life a lot more enjoyable, and keeping active helped to block the negative thoughts, and when has having a positive ever hurt anyone?


Recently, I came across a wonderful blog by Beth Carlton.  She was recently diagnosed with a GBM and has been doing her best to focus on the positive. I love her voice and the attitude of hope she is trying to spread.  If you'd like to read another warrior's journey, click on this link.  Stay strong and try not to feel guilty for feeling like crap and not being happy.  Sometimes those days are hard to find, but do try to find a way to get out of your head every now and then.  Ted's ability to not stress has taught me a lot.
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