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Topic: Pointless Positivity

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts —

Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: Aug 24, 2021 04:35PM - edited Aug 24, 2021 06:49PM by Melbo

Melbo wrote:

really I just wanted alliteration in my topic, because I don't think positivity is necessarily pointless and I think trying to focus on the positives can help a lot of people. However, as soon as anyone starts saying you “have to be" positive or trying to say that your attitude has anything to do with your cancer or your response to treatment pisses me off pretty darn quick. Based on the comments on a similar topic from a few days ago, I was definitely not the only one to feel that way, and the poster offered to takeher thread down.

I did think the topic was fairly interesting though, and I enjoyed reading a lot of the comments left by others on the boards. I probably would have dropped it right there and never really thought about it again — but there is an article in the Atlantic today that pretty much captures my feelings perfectly, and I'm sure many of you can relate.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/619844/

Diagnosed right before my 42nd birthday. One husband, two dogs, one cat and no kids. Dx 7/16/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/7/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/7/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/7/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 12/20/2020 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Radiation Therapy 1/31/2021 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 24, 2021 05:07PM Aram wrote:

This was an amazing read. Thanks for sharing. It summarized my feelings of the matter so well. That part with sugar!

Dx at 40, BRCA1 Dx 2/5/2021, IDC, Left, 1cm, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 2/5/2021, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 3/10/2021 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 6/2/2021 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 6/2/2021 Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Aug 24, 2021 05:22PM - edited Aug 24, 2021 05:39PM by exbrnxgrl

The other thread has not been taken down as only the mods can do that, not the op. The op has removed her initial post but the rest of the thread is available.

Thank you for the Atlantic piece. I have always had a positive outlook on things. I believe it’s simply part of my personality. I believe it has made my life easier but… I don’t believe it has had any effect on my bc. More than a few people, with no evidence or medical background, have vehemently insisted that I have done so well with stage IV because I have a great attitude. No, just no! I have done well but no one can really say why however I don’t believe my attitude had a single thing to do with it

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 24, 2021 05:23PM Charlierun wrote:

Hi Melbo, Thank you for posting that article in the Atlantic. That was so helpful to read as I navigate the surveillance required for a Brca2 mutation and the decision making that goes along with it.

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Aug 24, 2021 05:37PM Olma61 wrote:

I have a very positive attitude about Herceptin 😂😂😂


10/30/2017 Xgeva for bone mets 5/31/2018 Taxol finished! "If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right” - Kierkegaard Dx 8/3/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Targeted Therapy 10/28/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 10/28/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 10/30/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 5/14/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 5/30/2019 External: Bone
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Aug 24, 2021 05:54PM abigailj wrote:

thanks for posting that article link - great read!

Dx 1/2020, ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 2cm, Stage IB, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/22/2020 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, SIEA flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, SIEA flap
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Aug 24, 2021 05:58PM Melbo wrote:

my favorite line “collage the shit out of your cancer!”

Diagnosed right before my 42nd birthday. One husband, two dogs, one cat and no kids. Dx 7/16/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/7/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/7/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/7/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 12/20/2020 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Radiation Therapy 1/31/2021 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 24, 2021 06:38PM MountainMia wrote:

"There isn't a single bit of evidence that having a positive attitude helps heal cancer."

What? That couldn't possibly be right. How did she know that?

"They study it all the time," she said. "It's not true."


****

Thanks for the link. Yes, great read.

For me, it isn't the "positive attitude" thing specifically as the general "you're not doing it right." You're not praying right or eating right or emoting right or you need a different doctor or ... any thing.

When I told my small facebook friends group about my diagnosis, I tried to be clear, specific, and not emotional about it. I tried to use it as a teaching opportunity. And one of the things I said is, you're welcome to ask me any questions you want, but don't tell me I'm not doing it right. That doesn't help, and it's not welcome.


The rain comes and the rain goes, but the mountain remains. I am the mountain.
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Aug 24, 2021 08:04PM - edited Aug 24, 2021 08:04PM by ShetlandPony

How did you know to be so proactive, MountainMia? And was your request/instruction respected?

That article from The Atlantic is a great read, using some humor to bring the points home. This is an important topic. I have also heard the phrase Toxic Positivity. It can be harmful in more than one way.

By the way, I followed that other thread, and was concerned that the OP who was fairly new and still trying to find her way, ended up in the crossfire of a heated discussion. Let us be strong in our thinking and passionate in our conviction, but gentle with each other.

Now I have to go make a collage. Just kidding. I really just have to go ice my poor Faslodexed buns. I have a resigned attitude about it.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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Aug 24, 2021 08:04PM AliceBastable wrote:

I'm cynical and kind of a bitch. Is that why I only get stage one cancers so far? 😈

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Hope it stays that way. Dx 5/2018, ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 24, 2021 08:07PM ShetlandPony wrote:

Did you see the author mentioned you in the article, Alice?

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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Aug 24, 2021 08:09PM - edited Aug 24, 2021 09:26PM by exbrnxgrl

Alice you never fail to crack me up. You give all those cancer cells hellmy friend!

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 24, 2021 08:14PM ShetlandPony wrote:

My DH would like to post this: The fingers need to point at the people who are making money off promoting positive thinking as a cure; that is, at those who are selling the books, etc.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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Aug 24, 2021 08:19PM Trishyla wrote:

I think your cancers are afraid of you, Alice. They don't date progress beyond stage 1.

Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 9/6/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/28/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 4/4/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Chemotherapy 8/5/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine)
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Aug 24, 2021 09:08PM AliceBastable wrote:

My goodness (or badness lol!), I seem to have a reputation. It's about time; I spent seven decades being bland and invisible.

The whole positivity makes me CRAZY! I stayed off the other thread because I was afraid of starting WWII. Why do people say positive things to cancer patients? My hip replacement hurt like hell but I never heard "You've got this! You can beat it!" I think it's almost a superstitious thing for some people, like if they say something positive to a person with cancer, it'll keep the Cancer Cooties™ from landing on them. Shit, positivity repels ME, so maybe they're on to something. 🤔

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Hope it stays that way. Dx 5/2018, ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 24, 2021 09:36PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

A well meaning acquaintance decided to argue with me on the positivity vs. cancer thing. She was almost offended when I tried to debunk it. She was also shocked that me, generally quite the Pollyanna (I just retired from teaching grade 1 and I also taught kindergarten for many years.) , didn’t believe that a good attitude helped cancer. Trying to explain that it helped make my life easier but that cancer didn’t care, fell on deaf ears. Believe me, if being positive helped better ones outcome with cancer or any other disease, I’d be shouting it from the rooftops! Until such time, I’ll stay off the roof.


Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 25, 2021 05:57AM Rah2464 wrote:

Melbo what a wonderful article thank you so much for sharing. Cancer seems to be the only disease the occurs because you "did something" or "failed to do something" . In my case, that darned old 3-5 hours of aerobic exercise per week.

Dx 5/23/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 6/26/2018 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 7/26/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 25, 2021 07:06AM Traveltext wrote:

Good to see that article posted here again. It’s been on a few other bc forums as well. I think I used positivity falsely to cheer up family members who were a bit horrified at what I was going through. I certainly didn’t feel very positive after I naively asked my oncologist if I was cured after chemo. She said no, not until cancer is out of all the cells in your body. Oh, how many of them are there? Billions she replied!

The paragraph that got my attention in the article was about the administering of doxorubicin. I recall well the nurse dressed up in something like PPE to set me up for my dose. At the time it was scary, but I now realise these amazing drugs are the reason why I’m still in remission. Not because of anypositive attitude.


NED breast and prostate cancer. More on Male BC

Dx 03/14, IBC, Lgth. 2cm, Stge IIIB, Gde 2B, ER+/PR+, HER2- ; FEC x3, Taxol x3; Mx & 2/23 nodes; Rads x 33; now on tamoxofin.

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Aug 25, 2021 07:07AM MountainMia wrote:

Shetland Pony: "How did you know to be so proactive, MountainMia? And was your request/instruction respected?"

Well, by the time I told them, I'd been here at bco for at least a couple of months (early 2019.) I'd seen an earlier discussion thread on this same topic and realized that people (including me in the past) say stupid and hurtful things, usually without malicious intentions. Often they're trying to be helpful. So I had some forewarning.

And yes, for the most part, my request was respected. I think that was partly because I was so matter-of-fact, and partly because my friends are my friends because I can trust them.

The rain comes and the rain goes, but the mountain remains. I am the mountain.
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Sep 2, 2021 02:19AM - edited Sep 2, 2021 02:23AM by MargueriteKV

OMG, Melbo, I just joined this evening and made a point of looking for a chat about that infuriating "stay positive" stuff. I'm familiar with the Atlantic article you mentioned and love just about every word in it.

If you google on "Atlantic Toxic Positivity," you'll find another related Atlantic article that suggests Tragic Optimism as a more realistic approach to the reality of our human condition.

Dx 7/13/2021, IDC, Right, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Dx 8/25/2021, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/25/2021 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel

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