Many people affected by cancer feel that they should ‘be positive’. However, it’s not always easy - a lot of people have periods of feeling low at some time in their lives, and this is quite natural.
What is being positive?
Being positive means different things to different people. However, generally it’s about facing up to whatever situation you’re in, being optimistic and finding ways of coping. People do this in different ways. What works for one person may not work for another.
I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer two years ago. It has been a life-changing experience but there have been positives: I have a new outlook on life, I try not to get stressed over minor things, I relax more and appreciate life.
When you talk to people who have cancer, even the most positive of them will admit to low times when they felt depressed and anxious. No one can be positive all the time. It’s important that you don’t feel that you must always stay on top of things. Being positive doesn’t mean having to feel happy and cheerful all the time. It’s a positive thing to acknowledge and talk about your feelings - even when you’re feeling tired, worried, depressed or angry.
There may be times when you want to talk about a difficult topic, such as the likelihood of the cancer being cured or making a will. At such times, comments about being positive are not always helpful - in fact, they can be very upsetting.
Do my feelings affect the cancer?
Although there is a possibility that cancer may be influenced by our thoughts, feelings and attitudes; there is no convincing evidence that positive thinking can make treatments more effective or prevent cancer coming back. Neither is there any evidence that feeling negative or sad can delay a person’s recovery from cancer or its treatment.
It’s important to remember that cancer is influenced by many things, including our environment, diet, and our genetic and physical make-up.
Whatever you’re feeling is okay. It’s important that you’re able to talk honestly, and cry if you need to. This can help release tension and stress. It can even bring you closer to the person you’re talking to. It’s important to remember that all feelings and thoughts pass, and that you’ll feel better at some point in the future.