A Few Words about Positive Thinking

It is inevitable that, before too long, the canceree will find themselves exhorted to ‘think positively’ and ‘be strong’ in order to ‘beat the disease’. Looking on the bright side of life may make the canceree feel better emotionally and psychologically, of course; it can dilute the fear that cancer creates in people and it is much easier if your friend who has cancer is jolly and smiling, rather than despairing and tearful. But can a happy face and hope in the future cure cancer? I’m afraid not. And this belief also seems to imply – albeit accidentally – that those who don’t survive just didn’t think positively enough.

Even before my diagnosis, I thought it was strange how this language is only applied to cancer. One rarely hears the person with motor neurone disease, diabetes or multiple sclerosis being told that positive thinking will cure them. Cancer seems to be in a class of its own and those with the disease find themselves being addressed in a unique way, perhaps because people are just so frightened of it.

In general, I am a big fan of positivity and, in the past, I have been accused of possessing Pollyanna-esque tendencies. But having cancer is a scary, life-changing experience that can test your body to its limits and take your mind to the darkest places imaginable. I make every effort to remain strong and positive but I reserve the right to be weak and negative from time to time.

Every time I sit down to write a post on this blog, I spend a few moments thinking of two special women; two friends of mine who both sadly died from breast cancer in the last couple of years.

Jane was a single mum with a two and a half year old daughter when she was diagnosed. She amazed her doctors by living for seven years from her diagnosis, far longer than had been expected. When Jane knew her illness was terminal, she worked tirelessly to create a future for her daughter without her in it. I can think of no more painful task than that.

Gail was an inspirational woman, pure and simple. She worked as an immigration judge and a coroner. She changed so many people’s lives for the better. One of her colleagues wrote this wonderful tribute to her: In Memory of Gail Elliman. She was also on the threshhold of an exciting new chapter in her personal life.

Both these women had positivity running through their core; they were warriors; they fought like Boudicca to stay alive, but cancer doesn’t always give you that choice.

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3 thoughts on “A Few Words about Positive Thinking

  1. Brilliant. I have thought this so many times in the past, but could not find the words to explain and share ! I have been very frustrated in the past with people talking to me about ‘positivity’ sometimes with an ‘otherworldly’ air about their conversation. Worst still, a book recommendation ( I can’t rember the title now, but it was awful, I chucked it in the bin, something I’ve never done with a book
    Before, it was such drivel, I couldn’t bare to pass it on to a charity shop) . The power of positivity it told me- then went on to say, those with weaker minds attract negitivty . What Rot!
    You wallow as much as you feel nessasary my friend. You’ll bounce back up, maybe in a couple of minutes , maybe an hour, but I think it’s just as important as ‘keeping cheerful’ xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow… This is one of my pet peeves. I so relate to you. I used to be almost Pollyanna-esque. In fact, my own mother had accused me of that. Since cancer, it makes my skin crawl when I hear someone say, “Just be positive!” Ugh!

    Also, I’m so sorry about your two friends. It sounds like the world is a better place because they were in it.


  3. Love it! So right, why would positivity help fight cancer, and having it doesn’t mean you’re weak-minded. It’s caused by conditions being right in your body for malignant cells to grow and divide out of control.

    I think you’re right, people talk about positive thinking against cancer, because people are so frightened of it. As if being told you have it is a death sentence. I feel lucky that it was found and probably treated before it became that, hopefully. Always that fear of recurrence though.

    I’m into the power of positive thinking, meditation, affirmations (along with exercise, diet and supplements) etc. Despite my alternative medicine preferences, we went for full treatment. In a way, i was more afraid of the treatments than the disease. But, my mother in law basically said to me that being positive is all that’s needed.

    She also said that she had some skin cancers cut off so she’s been through the same as me. I understand she would have had the same fear of the C word and much healing required. But, I had 1.8cm IDC so they cut a 5cm triangle lumpectomy, 10 axillary nodes removed, chemotherapy, herceptin for a year and radiation. Um…. This caused chemo-induced menopause at the age of 38.

    Now being told a few years afterwards, I should be over it all by now. I also suffer autoimmune disease amongst osteoarthritis and many other things – in some ways they are worse than cancer, since no one understands.

    Sure if cancer comes back it’ll be ‘my fault’ for not thinking positive. Kookie isn’t it! Lovely reading your few words. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

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