It’s pretty tough to think about having a good attitude when you’re face-to-face with a breast cancer diagnosis, but I am here to say that “attitude is everything” applies to your breast cancer journey, too. It’s almost always shocking when you get the diagnosis. I know from my experience that the sooner you can get past the shock stage and move to a place of positive action, the better.
I believe that a positive attitude is one of your best weapons in this fight. It helps you stay open to treatment options. It allows you to enjoy your life while undergoing cancer treatments. And while a positive attitude alone isn't going to cure cancer, I really do believe it helps your body fight the cancer. As I went through my journey, I kept some things in mind to keep the positive attitude as “up” as I could. Here are a few thoughts I wanted to share on the power of a positive mindset and attitude:
Even though it can be tough, practice gratitude. Say thank you to those who are supporting you and appreciate the things in your life that are going right.
It’s going to be okay. If you tell yourself everything is awful, that’s what it will be. Positive energy = positive results and negative energy = negative results.
Do things that make you happy and laugh. Whether it’s moving your body, watching comedies or the sunrise, or spending time with family, do things that make you smile.
Keep your head up, face things that come your way head on, and go into your doctor’s appointments with the mindset that it’s going to work.
Find things that inspire you. Make a playlist of your “fight songs,” look for inspirational quotes, join groups of people that know what you’re going through, talk often to your most optimistic friends and family.
Share your positive energy with everyone! What’s better? Walking into chemo with your head down, avoiding eye contact, wishing you were anywhere else but there…. Or bouncing into the infusion center, smiling and saying hi to everyone you see and being excited that you are getting one more round of chemo out of the way and therefore kicking cancer’s ass!? The second one is way better! Trust me, you will enjoy the experience much more, your nurses will enjoy taking care of you, and you will probably make a whole bunch of other patients smile!
Make sure your friends and family know you’re trying to stay positive. Tell them to help you keep your negativity in check by keeping theirs in check too. Let them take you out, make you smile, and have some normalcy.
If proof helps you, there is plenty of science that backs it!
Studies suggest that optimistic cancer patients have a better quality of life than those who are pessimistic and feel hopelessness (Schou, Ekeberg & Rauland, 2005)
Carver et al., (1993) examined the ways women cope with treatment for early stage breast cancer and found that optimism was associated with a pattern of reported coping tactics that revolved around accepting the reality of the situation, placing as positive a light on the situation as possible, trying to relieve the situation with humor, and taking active steps to do whatever there was to be done.
Cruess, Antoni, McGregor, et al. (2000) encouraged 34 women who had just undergone surgery with breast cancer to find meaning in the adversity. Results showed difference in cortisol; the treatment group who received behavior therapy showed lower level of this immune suppressing hormone in blood stream, than the control group.
The truth is, there are going to be some dark moments. I remember a few occasions of feeling sorry for myself. There were tears and feelings of hopelessness – it’s going to happen. The key is to not let it hang around. Acknowledge that things are pretty crappy right now, allow yourself a short pity party and then remind yourself that this is temporary. It will get better!