Sunday, September 06, 2009

September 6, 2009 - Positively a Survivor

Today I come across a helpful website for cancer survivors from “across the pond.” It’s the MacMillan/CancerBackup website – evidently, a recent merger of two cancer-support sites.

There’s a lot of helpful stuff here about feelings and relationships, and how they impact the lives of cancer survivors. One item I found myself nodding along with addresses the whole subject of “being positive” – that common advice others often extend to us. Some of us may find ourselves thinking we ought to keep a positive attitude all the time, and that this is somehow essential to our wellness. Not so, says this website:

“When you talk to people with cancer, even the most positive of them will admit to low times when they felt depressed and anxious. No one can be positive 100% of 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 like the chance of the cancer being cured or making a will. Comments about being positive are then not always helpful - in fact, they can be very upsetting.”

Sometimes, you just can’t respond positively to cancer. There’s sadness associated with it, anger, even depression. It does no good to try to stuff powerful feelings like these, to deny that they’re present, out of a mistaken belief that keeping a sunny attitude is somehow therapeutic.

I think the most therapeutic thing, actually, is to try to keep closely in touch with our true feelings, to acknowledge them, to deal with them appropriately. This doesn’t mean bleeding all over our friends and family, emotionally speaking. But it does mean freeing ourselves from any prejudgment that there’s a particular way we ought to be feeling.

Most of us, I suspect, would do much better if we’d seek to banish that little word “ought” from our thinking, when it comes to feelings.

1 comment:

Rob Pollock said...

Hey Carl,
Yes, I'm back. Thanks for the note and words of support. I've stopped into your site from time to time to check on your progress.
Thanks for this post. It's what I needed to hear today.
Keep on keep'n on!