Keeping a Positive Attitude While Getting Treatment for Breast Cancer
October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the importance of this subject cannot be overstated. Anyone who has gone through breast cancer will instantly know what I mean. But, for those of you who have not, it is equally important to get informed. There are more than 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone. And, many, many more world-wide.
According to Elaine Shattner, a Forbes Magazine contributor, "The unfortunate truth is that the rate of invasive breast cancers in U.S. women has been going up. Between 1975 and 2012, the incidence of invasive breast cancer climbed from 103 to nearly 130 cases per 100,000 women, in the United States. This 25% increase in the disease rate is based on SEER data for women of all races.
The American Cancer Society explains that cancer affects your body, but it also affects your emotions and feelings, too. Your attitudes, emotions, and moods can change from day to day, and even from hour to hour. You may feel good one day and terrible the next. Know that this is normal and that, with time, most people are able to adjust to a cancer diagnosis and move forward with their lives.
Positive Thinking is a wonderful state-of-mind, and one that is absolutely necessary when you are being treated for Breast Cancer. But, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s difficult to practice total mind control when you are in the midst of a difficult medical affliction like cancer. It is important to state that there have been many studies on the power of positive thinking and how it affects overall physical health. Naturally, physicians understand how important it is and they try to educate and encourage their patients on the benefits of keeping a positive attitude. The amazing effects of positive thinking are unmistakable in the patients who practice this and in the treatment results.
So, how can you accomplish a positive state of mind? For me, one of the things was a children’s book published in 1930 by Platt & Munk, “The Little Engine That Could”. It is a book that makes the case for the power of positive thinking. Once you’ve read it, you can’t forget it. Simple, sweet and effective. The story begins as a train, loaded with all sorts of treats and goodies, must travel over a mountain to deliver the goods to earnest boys and girls on the other side. However, along the way, the train encounters problems with its engine and is thwarted from continuing its journey.
The toys aboard the train decide to try to help and begin to signal passing trains. The engines refuse. After many pleas for help, a small train comes along, and seeing the distress of the engine, offers to assist. The little engine isn’t built to carry such a big load. Still, the small engine understood the need was keen and does its best to assist. The little engine begins to repeat out loud a positive mantra - “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” As the engine pulls and tugs to get the train rolling again, it continues the positive chant without wavering. The small blue engine was able to successfully reach the top of the mountain before slowly heading down towards the town.
That wonderful children’s story came to me as I was thinking about my breast cancer ordeal. I saw many valuable lessons in that story and even though it is a children’s book, I believe it can speak just as effectively to full grown adults.
At different times, during my cancer journey, I unwittingly would suddenly believe the lies cancer would tell. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. You may think that you’re not good enough, or that you’re not a real woman anymore. Thoughts like those were alarming to me because I knew that they could be insidious and worm their way into the heart and mind. Some could even end up taking up residence there. That was unacceptable to me. When I found myself, saying, “I can’t do this or that, I knew those thoughts should not and could not take root. That is when the little engine that could story popped into my head.
Through positive self-talk, I knew, like the little engine that could, that everything was going to be alright with consistent effort. It worked. Whenever I had the thought that I couldn’t do this or that, I told myself, “I think I can. I think I can.” And then, amazingly, I could. I suddenly found myself returning to normal!
On a final note, having gone through breast cancer myself, one thing that returned with the repetition of the positive mantra - “I think I can. I think I can” - was laughter. Cancer is so full of negativity. The very word itself conjures fearful, dark thoughts. However, with the mantra I was able to see the humor in so many of the events surrounding the whole ordeal. The laughter got me back in the driver’s seat and into a place of healing.