Staying Positive After a Cancer Diagnosis

Weathering a cancer diagnosis and treatment is a life-changing ordeal that often comes too suddenly for people to process fully. If you’re wondering how to stay positive and optimistic after your diagnosis, you’re not the only one. Here are some tips to help you:

staying positive after a cancer diagnosis

Talk to Survivors

There’s nothing more comforting than being able to look another person in the eyes and know that they’ve been where you are and survived. The positive emotional benefit of joining a group of cancer survivors, or of meeting one-on-one with someone who has successfully undergone cancer treatment, is hard to overestimate.

When you are diagnosed, it’s sometimes difficult to discuss your feelings and your day-to-day health with your friends and family. While your loved ones will probably want to talk about these things with you, they may not have the understanding of someone who has also had to undergo radiation, chemotherapy and the stress of a visit to the oncologist.

Make a point of seeking out a group early on in your treatment. Your cancer center and your care team will be able to offer you suggestions for survivors’ networks in urban areas, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas or other cities.

Don’t Focus on Statistics

Our society has a hunger for numbers, it seems, and there are statistics available for just about every variable a cancer patient encounters. While statistics are a useful tool to help us understand the prevalence of cancer, and the amazing strides that medicine has taken in the treatment of cancer, they can also be a source of stress.

For every number of successes, a statistic also reveals the worrying margin of uncertainty. When patients become focused only on these numbers and not on the positive and individual circumstances of their own health, it can be a source of anxiety.

Repeat Good News

There can be times during treatment when it seems like every piece of news is a black cloud hanging over you and your health. This is why it’s important to pick out and celebrate every shred of good news that comes your way.

If you find yourself dwelling too often and for too long on the negative aspects of your treatment or of your day-to-day health, then you need to switch your focus to the things that actually are going well.

Did your son get a good report card? Bake a cake (or buy one if baking’s not your thing) and celebrate it. Your doctor said your blood work is looking positive? Call a friend and tell them the good news. Make a video log or keep a diary of all of the good things that have happened each day.

If you can’t think of anything, ask your partner or friend to help you. Keep a scrapbook or a small bulletin board of things worth celebrating nearby and browse through it when you’re feeling down.

Accept That Not Every Day is a Good Day

Additionally, you’re going to need to accept that not every day is a good day. Even before your diagnosis, not every day was fantastic. However, you may have been able to cope with your bad days a little more optimistically than you do now.

Let yourself have bad days—don’t punish yourself by trying to be emotionally insincere and putting on a good mask. Find ways to turn a bad day into a not-so-bad day, and you’ll find that your stress level and your general mood improve.

Make Plans

Cancer can take away our sense of independence. You are now subject to a regime of treatments, doctor’s visits and worry. Many cancer patients feel like they’ve lost control of their lives, which can negatively impact their mood. Strike back by making plans.

Plan your week and your year. Get organized, and ask for your family’s help in controlling the small things in your life. Plan to volunteer for a charity or cause important to you as well—giving back to others can be a great mood-booster on its own.

Doctors tout the importance of attitude in the treatment process. Keep your mood up, and you might just find that your cancer treatments become more effective.

About the Author:Larraine Sanchez is a breast cancer survivor and nurse.

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