Crazy Cancer Cures: The Power of Positive Thinking

You guys! It’s time again for another in my series on Crazy Cancer Cures, where we discuss the many dumb ideas I’ve heard about alternative ways to cure my cancer. Today we’re going to talk about the power of positive thinking. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “Just stay positive, you can beat this!” Uh, no, I can’t. Metastatic breast cancer has no cure. Unless one is discovered, and quickly, I’ll die of my disease. I will not beat it. And no amount of positive thinking about it will change the biology of my tumor. 

Here’s where people get confused: there can be lifestyle benefits to having a positive attitude. Like, if you’re positive, you tend to have less depression, and that’s a positive thing for your lifestyle. Will that mean your cancer won’t kill you? No. It just means you’ll be less depressed while you wait for death.

In addition, there is actually research showing that all the “keep fighting” battle metaphors have a negative impact of the emotional state of cancer patients. So actually, telling people to stay strong and positive can make things worse.

Lots of things make cancer treatment less shitty. Exercise, anti-nausea medications, a healthy diet, pain medications, a hug from a friend. These are all awesome things. But none of these things CURE cancer. Supportive care isn’t a cure. It just makes cancer less shitty–which is a good thing, but not a cure.

6 thoughts on “Crazy Cancer Cures: The Power of Positive Thinking

  1. I hate the cult of positive thinking. If there is anything to be said for it, it’s that the book “the antidote” was awesome, and wouldn’t have been written but for the BS positive thinking craziness.

    A so-called “positive” attitude can affect compliance with a treatment regimen… but it can’t do magic. That isn’t really surprising. I most certainly advocate getting treatment for depression. Not being depressed and this crazy “think positive” gobbledygook are two different beasts.

    “Just think positive! You have to fight!” Yeah? Screw you. I prefer thinking real, and nurturing my spirit and my body. Let my oncologist and her pharmaceuticals fight.

  2. I too get frustrated by the expectation of positivity. I have had a lot of fortune in my life, and I am grateful for the good stuff, but my life is now filled with terminal cancer and its attendant emotional and physical pain, and it is damned hard to smile.

  3. This would be my fave. Yes, life is better when I am in a good mood and stay happy – but it isn’t a cute. Attitude does not keep you alive. Grrrrr. I tell people in know many super positive and happy people who have died quickly and many cranky ones who have lived a very long time! 😛
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  4. You always hit the nail on the head Beth! I’m choking already on the “positive”!

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