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Staying Positive In Spite of a Cancer Diagnosis

Staying Positive In Spite of a Cancer Diagnosis

Living with cancer can be a difficult situation. Emotions can fluctuate from moment to moment. I recently learned of an interesting concept known as “radical acceptance.” It can be described as accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. For me, radical acceptance is about saying yes to life. Accepting does not mean agreeing. Acceptance meant turning my resistant thoughts into accepting ones such as, “I have cancer, I don’t like it, it is what it is, and I cannot change it.”

So often I would like to deny or ignore this cancer diagnosis and its implication on my life. In order to deal with cancer, I realized how important it is to remain positive. The following strategies have and continue to be helpful in promoting my positive outlook.

Ways to maintain a positive attitude

A long sleep is a good cure for anything.

Fortunately, this is my ‘go to strategy’ when dealing with any concerns. After a good sleep, I feel more relaxed and can deal with my worry or concern.

Avoid overthinking, which leads to excessive worrying.

Unfortunately, this is a strategy that I need to work on. I still tend to worry and, at times, look at possible negative consequences. Always wanting to be in control forces me to consider all options. This hit home this week when, during a conversation with my teenage granddaughter, I mentioned that should my upcoming CT scan show growth of my non-Hodgkin cancer, I would need chemotherapy again. I suggested that she could help me select a wig, as hair loss was probable. My astute granddaughter told me that I was very negative and should not worry. How right she is!

Positive thoughts have a solution for a problem

Negative thoughts have a problem for every solution. This is so true and, for me, a challenge but very worthwhile strategy.

Avoid negativity

I try not to let anyone’s negativity ruin my day or let people get to me. My happiness belongs to me. I will focus on what matters.

Time with the right people

Spend more time with people who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you. I am fortunate to have a very loving family and a circle of wonderful friends. With my diagnosis of cancer seven years ago, I made a promise to never miss an opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter.

Quit worrying about how everything is going to turn out

Live one day at a time. Better yet, make the most of every moment. The summer of my cancer diagnosis, at a friend’s suggestion, I went parasailing. It was so unlike me. I loved it! To celebrate the end of my chemotherapy, we enjoyed a wonderful cruise with my family. I decided to make memories.

Laugh a little louder

Laugh a little louder, smile a little wider, and love a little deeper. Walk through life a little slower. Again, I now appreciate each day as a gift and try to make the most of it.

Do not get upset with people or situations

Both are powerless without your reaction. This is another area that I need to work on. My wise son reminds me not to react.

Rebuild your life from within

Love yourself unconditionally. Release your bottled-up emotions. I have found that journaling or expressive writing helps me relax. When I actually write, I can identify my feelings and develop a plan to address.

Smiles are contagious and kindness is free

Life is too short. I am focusing my time on me by improving myself to be a better person – physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am trying to sweep my life clean of sadness, pain, anger, resentment, lies, tears, hate, and all the terrible things that have hurt me in the past.

I am blessed. Today, I will focus on all that is right in my life, I will forget what is gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what is coming next…maybe parasailing with my granddaughter this summer! We will see. I will keep you posted.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    6 months ago

    I love this. As someone who used positivity through their experience, I can truly say that this all was extremely beneficial for me in my physical and mental healing. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Carole McCue author
    6 months ago

    You are right one needs to deal with one’s emotions and negative feelings . However, for me I also needed to think about what is positive in my life. Our moods change and we must address our feelings. What I suggested were strategies to help.

  • Carolyn B
    6 months ago

    But if you force yourself to always be positive then you end up stuffing feeling that you need to deal with. In my opinion it is appropriate to grieve what you have lost. Sure eventually you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward (knowing that like grief, you will circle back over and over, but over time the periods of intense feelings become shorter in length and further and further apart – well unless you have something happen like relapse or stop responding to treatment), but dealing with negative feelings about this cancer gig IS part of the journey and in my opinion forcing yourself to be positive can be damaging.

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    6 months ago

    Hey @kidsandliz – I totally hear you. It’s important to be able to deal with your negative emotions as well. I am not diagnosed with cancer, but in my life, I’ve found mindfulness meditation has helped me deal with my negative feelings. It helps me accept them as they are and know that the cycle of intense feelings will come back around like you said. It’s not for everyone but it helps me. Have you found anything that helps you? Thanks for sharing and please know we’re always here for you. Best, Anthony

  • Carole McCue author
    7 months ago

    Thank you Ann. Cancer has given me a new outlook on life.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    7 months ago

    You definitely have a wonderful outlook. I hope you get to go parasailing with your granddaughter! Good for you giving it a try in the first place.

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