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Attitude Debate



  • sharebear
    sharebear Member Posts: 14
    edited November 2007

    I don't think attitude has anything to do with getting any disease including breast cancer. I am a very positive upbeat person. My friends and family consider me to be an optimist and not a pesimist. I'm upbeat without being one of those annoying people you just want to smack. Saying all that, this is now my 2nd dx. 1st at age 32 and 2nd now at age 44. Yes does that suck, sure.

    I think when they say attitude helps, they refer to your healing. It is medical fact that those with "the good attitude" or those that "aren't depressed or angry" heal quicker. It's the effect that has on the body in the healing process. Depression and anger can cause a whole different set of negative effects on the body. These effects can deter the body from healing.  No, we can't all walk around like this isn't happening to us, but the kick but attitude does help the "healing process".


  • ravdeb
    ravdeb Member Posts: 277
    edited November 2007

    Well, I also believe that it helps the healing process. I think it's psychological to feel better if you are not negative. I don't really believe that it makes something physically better but it does appear that pain is lessened because of the attitude. I know this from my own experiences with pain and I now see this with my mom who just had a knee replacement.

  • StefS
    StefS Member Posts: 17
    edited November 2007

    I really, really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I feel that I have nothing new to add, you all expressed my views already.

    I did try the mind over matter during chemo. I can't even remember the words I kept repeating to myself in my head, but something along the lines that I would breeze through without problems. If nothing else, it was a nice thought to hang on to. I did have a relatively easy time with the chemo, but I do not for one minute believe it is because of me wishing it. I was just one of the lucky ones.

  • trikkegirl
    trikkegirl Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2007

    I think the late Molly Ivins said it best:  "Cancer doesn't give a rat's a** what your attitude is.  A positive attitude just makes living [life] better." 

    I am 49 and a co-survivor by proxy, I guess.  I must have put lamb's blood over my door or something cause I have been spared, but not my brother's wife or my best friend from high school...I have been walking alongside them since 2000.  If you compared lifestyles/health habits of me and those two ladies, you might think I was most likely to be stricken.  So I can tell you this:  You don't have cancer because you were a bad mother, wife, daughter, employee, person...somewhere along the line.  You don't have cancer cause you ate too many (fill in the blank here)....Fritos, ding-dongs, chocolate, sugar, hamburgers, tacos....whatever.  You don't have cancer cause you enjoyed sex too much or going to church too little.  Cancer is a crap-shoot, more so for those of us who are not genetically predisposed.  I might end up finding a lump one of these days....or not.  Time will tell.  But I'm not joining a church or giving up chocolate in the meantime.  Cancer is what it is, and I am who I am, and for those of you who are fighting it and/or surviving it now....just be yourselves and live your lives, and do it for *you*, not to make everybody else feel better.

    Thanks...I needed to get that off my chest.  :-) 

  • Karyll
    Karyll Member Posts: 3
    edited November 2007

    I have not been at this as long as some of you wonderful ladies but already (4 months after diagnosis- mastectomy and half way through chemo) I hear ya loud and clear!

    Your attitude is so good, you are so positive, you are sure to beat this thing! Well umm.. I surely hope so too but you didn't think my positive attitude would help other things in my life? Did it suck before? or what? The only thing that has changed in my attitude is that I too know now what NOT to say to a survivor or one in treatment.I do know that my positivity has helped me through some pretty tremulous times (telling my children) but that was there long before the beast was. Attitude does not just "appear" it's something that is cultivated for a long time. I do have to admit to not taking each moment for the moment that it was but I do surely now know what "living for the moment" means. But wow it sure is hard when that moment is filled with fear, or pain, or confusion and someone is phoning to say how wonderfully brave I am. My attitude has prevented me from saying some pretty off the cuff, nasty remarks. I know they mean well, and most of them truly do - but wow - sometimes ...... Well you have all said it here...

    Thanks for giving me a place to echo the same sentiments.


  • Sadie-Rose
    Sadie-Rose Member Posts: 5
    edited November 2007


    Early in my career I directed a program for parent of newly born children with Down syndrome. Expectations for these babies had been very low at the time. Many children were sent to live in institutions. My staff and I wanted to present higher expectations for the children's development and to help families see that these children could do so much more living with their families. We wanted to model for parents our joy in working with their children. We wanted to be a pleasant, happy place for families to come to. To shorten this story...we presented such a positive approach that some parents told us we weren't letting them grieve. They felt it wasn't okay to have a bad day. We learned to let families have their sad days and their happy day. We learned to listen more.

    Our friends and family want to help us. They don't want to think of us as ill. They want everything back to normal. They try to be cheerful. Their efforts might be just what we need on some days and on other days just the opposite of what we need.

    One thing I noticed about myself is that I often appeared happy, like nothing was going on and that I was doing well even when I was scared or felt tired. I had a friend tell me that I wasn't letting people nurture me. Being nurtured was pretty foreign to me at the time. I am still working on it. But it is a really nice things...on some days.

    Anyway, I think there are two/three messages in my story. Let other's nurture you, forgive those who want you to be well too soon and take days to cocoon when you want to. It is amazing how much energy I save now not holding up that heavy front for others.

    I hope that made sense...sort of rambling on.



  • snowyday
    snowyday Member Posts: 121
    edited November 2007

    I love this thread.  I'm so sick of the Hallmark remarks I get and from total strangers as well.  Somedays I just don't want to wear a wig when I go out and I can't belive what some people say to me.

    The your so brave, really pisses me off, brave, that's for the troops in Irag and the wives and children of their spouses, and I've said that to people.  Another one I just hate is "you don't lood to bad with cancer". My hair is gone, my face and eyes are so puffy and I've gained 15lbs.  I just thank some of them, but close friends I just tell them to can it, I know what I looked like before treatment and I know how I look now. I can't even wear makeup because the eye tearing is so extreme and has caused my eyes to become raw, red and puffy.  I loved it my cousin who hadn't seen me since June said " Holy shit you look different and not a good different" and then we laughed until we both had tears in our eyesl.   I know people mean well when they come out these remarks but I just wish they wouldn't say anything.  My attitude is good I make sure I have a good laugh at least once a day and if I have a mini meltdown well I have and get over it.  My Radiation Dr. was honest with me he hadn't seen me either until a week or so ago and he just said, the chemo really had made you look different I wouldn't have recognized you.  And I said yup just hope I can look like I used to one day soon.  But living with this day in and day out is hard but if I let it sink in and whined about it to my family and friends I would get depressed.  Nothing I'm mean nothing is nicer than being with a friend who treats me the same as before I got treatment.  My attitude is good, thank God for that.  But today is a bit tougher than usual my son left to go back home 1300 hundred miles away and I miss him already and had a good cry. And I'm waiting for my sisters' phone call to see if the lump they found in her breast had to be biopsied and just sort of praying that she'll be cancer free.  Today is sort of shitty, but tomorrow well it's Friday and it's a new day and my attitude will be good, it just has to be.  I've always been a firm believer that you can change your attitude when you wake up. I used to hate when I would go into the office and co-workers would be in a bad mood drove me nuts and I would spend the day either ignoring it or trying to joke them out of it.  I'm going on and on and that it for now. But I love this.  Now we all have to think of the stupidist remark we've been given.  Have a good day all!

  • LaurieL
    LaurieL Member Posts: 4
    edited November 2007

    I know of few people that whine about every little thing.  I've been telling them "well have positive attitude and you'll get thru everything just fine."  They give me the "ya right" look and I tell them that's what everyone told me to have during chemo... shouldn't it work to help get thru other issues as well?  They think since it's them it's a whoooole other story.   Hmmm.  But don't get me wrong.... people are always telling me I'm happy go lucky and always have a smile on my face but people that haven't been thru chemo tell you to have a positive attitude?  To me, that's quite ironic!


  • Shirlann
    Shirlann Member Posts: 60
    edited December 2007

    I would very much like to meet the person who could possibly have a "Positive Attitude" with a diagnosis of ANY kind of cancer.

    Of course we all act fine. We have to. The only place we can be honest is right here. With everyone else, we have to "pretend", or they get so upset we end up comforting them. Sighhhh

    Cancer could give a fig about attitude. And getting better has nothing to do with attitude either, unless you consider scared to death an attitude.

    Very annoying, to say the least.

    Hugs, Shirlann

  • Laurita
    Laurita Member Posts: 4
    edited December 2007

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this conversation.  I got so SICK and TIRED of hearing people tell me to have a POSITIVE attitude that I just tune it out.  I think they just don't know what to say and that's the first seemingly unoffensive thing that they can come up with.  I got so pissed with my husband when he said this to me as I cried, describing my mammo, that I didn't talk to him for days (he doesn't live here).  There is no advice anyone can give you as to how to get through this.  Each of us finds our way and does what we need to do, to get through each day.  If it helps to vent every negative thought that has entered your mind, then do it!  No thought is frivolous or superficial!  We are women, after all!  Many of us like to be feminine, pretty, sexy, soft, curvy, whole.  Who wouldn't?  I recently was confronted at a party by a "friend" who sat me down and tried to do some retrospective analysis of what, in my lifestyle, might have caused my cancer, comparing it to the situation of his ex-wife who has advanced metastatic bc.  What I think about him and what he did is too RUDE to repeat here!  I will NEVER talk to this person again.

    My attitude has always been:  know what is the absolute worst outcome.  Expect something between that, and the best possible outcome.  Accept that it will be what it will be, and do the best to fight this thing.  The only theme that has had me feeling a bit negative is that, after two years of hot flashes and menopausal changes, to have this dumped on top of everything seemed a bit much.  I resent the additional insult to my sexuality.  But that seems to be how life is.  Lousy things don't happen when we are prepared for them, and really - how could anyone ever be prepared for something this lousy???  I can only look back on other bad things that have happened in my life and realize that in retrospect they were never as bad as I thought they'd be at the outset.  I am hoping for the same with the cancer battle.

    Peace and strength to all...

  • calger
    calger Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2007


    My attitude the first time was very positive. If I dared to say anything negative, people thought I was jinxing my recovery. Negative comments made my loved ones nervous, like I wasn't working hard enough at getting better.

    This time, it was harder for me to be positive because I had a mastectomy and my cancer was triple negative. However, as my mom would say, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps. I am more matter of fact. But I am more spiritual as well. Every morning when I wake up, I pray that I will be more giving and that I will be more joyful. It works 90% of the time :")


  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited April 2019

    I know this is a REALLY old thread, but I happened on it today and read through all the comments, nodding along with most of them.

    I'm pretty positive, pragmatic, even-tempered, pleasant. I also don't like to talk about myself generally, so usually people don't know what I'm thinking or feeling about things. Right now not many people in my bigger life know about my bc, and if I don't have chemo (don't know yet,) many of them may never know.

    But whether people know or not know, it seems like it's my job to manage their response to it! Like, don't tell them so they don't say stupid things or demand energy from me I want to spend on my health. Or do tell them, and then deal with how they react. I saw a co-volunteer the other day and he said, "it must be very stressful." I almost said "no," if you can believe that. Because I'm used to minimizing how I really feel about anything negative. But I caught myself and agreed "yes, yes it is very stressful." He is a very kind man and I appreciated his comment, and was glad I was able to be honest if brief.

    I feel like talking with my 3 children will be some of the most difficult. (They do know about the cancer and that I'm doing well post-surgery.) None of them are local to me. Son and his wife have a new baby, are selling their house and preparing to move halfway across the country, etc. Daughter on the east coast has plenty of issues of her own, as does the daughter closer to us. They all love me and want the best for me, but I'm not sure what their CAPACITY for waiting through my thinking or talking about it is. Capacity, like they are already full because of their own lives.

    So attitude -- I have a pretty good attitude. Someone in a comment above said consider the worst thing and the best thing and probably what will happen is somewhere between those. It's pragmatic. Get 'er done. But the river of my thoughts and emotions keeps rising, not yet threatening to spill over the banks, but it's high!

    I dunno. Maybe seeing a therapist who is not emotionally connected to me would be helpful, let me say stuff that I don't feel like I can share elsewhere. Funny thing, though. I have pretty good health insurance (it seems!) but I don't have any coverage for mental health care.

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 763
    edited April 2019

    MountainMia, glad you posted and brought this thread up for some air. I couldn't agree more with what everyone has said.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,926
    edited April 2019

    I've been reamed by a few people HERE for getting a bit short with some drama lovers who had very simple surgery/treatments with no complications, not even all that recently, but still continue to go on and on and on and on about their continuing trauma from having had breast cancer. To me, it's kind of offensive to those who have gone through chemo, have higher stages, or had really bad SEs of some sort. And I have even less patience with the enablers who encourage them.

    But I'll admit I've been overly cheerful and positive with family and friends, then felt miffed when not one of them ever asked how I'm doing. I guess I'm hard to please. 🤔

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited April 2019

    Alice, I think it's hard to know how to feel and how to react, both about our own troubles and about others'. I don't want to play the "at least" game with anyone's illness. But I'll admit a few days ago there was a new thread in bco with someone complaining about ... I won't even say!! It wasn't their health, it was a procedural thing! And they went on and on. I thought geez louise, aren't there more significant things to rant about? But maybe she needed to let off some steam and that was the thing that really torked her that day. :)

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,926
    edited April 2019

    MountainMia, I'm cool with rants and vents and bad days - until I see the same people posting their negativity over and over again, and even getting cranky at posters who are Stage 4 who have more positive attitudes. Maybe we need a thread for unrepentant drama queens! 👸

  • kayrem
    kayrem Member Posts: 24
    edited May 2019

    Hi Mountain Mia - I also had “troubles” with the whole attitude thing. I had young children at the time of the diagnosis so I put on a brave happy face but really was full of fear. I saw a therapist and I told her all of my most terrible horrible fears for one hour a month. I told her about my anger at people telling me that I had to have a good attitude, as if by having a bad one I was deliberately harming myself. I leaned hard on my sister and my husband to get me through the first few years of fear and then I was okay. It takes time...

    My therapist told me that there was no scientific based evidence that having a “bad” attitude would be harmful (at least not at that time -7 years ago). Where it would be problematic, she said, is how people around you may not want to be around you or listen to you and your “bad” attitude. This made a lot of sense to me. I have looked after both my parents as they got sick and died. They both had overall positive attitudes. There was acknowledgement of discomfort, bad days, etc. But there was lots of gratitude for the good days in between.

    It is so hard to be positive at the beginning but it gets a whole lot easier as you get outweeks, months years from treatment. People need to grieve their forced change of life in whatever way is necessary to help them move forward.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited July 2019

    bumping because this is still a great thread.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited September 2021

    Bumping once again.

    Positive attitude makes me feel better and probably makes me more pleasant to be around. It doesn't cure cancer. In the last 2 years, 2 of the loveliest, most graceful, well-loved, positive people I've ever known have died from cancer. One had colon cancer and the other, a man, had breast cancer. I know all of you have examples like this you could share, too.

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 763
    edited September 2021

    MountainMia, thanks for bumping this thread. I couldn't agree more with trikkegirl's post from Nov 14, 2007:

    "Nov 14, 2007 01:01PM trikkegirl wrote:

    I think the late Molly Ivins said it best: "Cancer doesn't give a rat's a** what your attitude is. A positive attitude just makes living [life] better." "

    I absolutely loved Molly Ivins.

  • teedoff
    teedoff Member Posts: 63
    edited September 2021

    MountainMia, thanks for resurfacing the Molly Ivins quote. My current favorite is a Ted Lasso line. “Living in the moment is a gift—that's why they call it the present 🎁." I have a small group of close friends who are well aware of the extent of my cancer but never lecture about attitude or give unsolicited advice. Others are curious about how I'm doing but are too afraid to be direct since I have chosen to remain private. When my friends are approached for scoop, they say, “Why don't you ask her?" A positive attitude won’tchange the outcome, but I sure don't want a pity party. There's a lot left to enjoy.

  • justagalwholoveslife
    justagalwholoveslife Member Posts: 46
    edited March 13

    thank you for this thread!

    If my granddaughter could be a warrior battling osteosarcoma at 9, nasty chemo and having a knee replacement and leg bone replaced with a titanium rod, I kinda felt that I needed to put on my big girl pants the day I felt the lump!

    She is my hero! She never complained or got sad about it so neither will I ❤️