Why you should stop telling cancer patients to be positive.
This has been bothering me for a while. Telling a cancer patient to be positive. Be positive that you will get violently sick? Be positive that you will be constantly nauseous? Be positive that you will have a headache that no pill helps for? Be positive that you lose feeling in your fingers, which makes working difficult? Be positive that you will be so tired that waking up and staying awake feels impossible? Be positive that you have had surgery that leaves you feeling less than a woman? Be positive that you will lose your hair? That same hair that YOU spend so much time on washing and styling? The hair that makes you want to hide at home when you have a bad hair day?
All that must make a cancer patient feel positive?
Do you sit back and think how much pressure you put on a cancer patient when you say that? It makes it difficult for a cancer patient to admit that she is having a tough day. That she is not feeling so good. It makes that patient feel she has to smile so that no-one tells her to be positive. Even healthy people feel down some days right?
I can tell you that I appreciate it when someone says I am so positive. I am. I mostly feel this is a page in my book and not even worthy of a chapter. I have days where I feel it is a separate book though. I story on it’s own. Where I’m strong, fearful, thankful, angry … all at the same time.
This “be positive” thing didn’t bother me so much when it was just me. Now it’s my mom though. My mom having to go through what I’m going through. My mom having to get chemo to fight a horrible disease. Not flu. Not bronchitis or a broken leg. Cancer. Cancer where you feel so darn well but then end up making yourself sick by going for chemo. No, I don’t expect her to feel positive.
Yes, I get where everyone is coming from. It is always from a good and caring place. Should I see my mom lying in bed for days on end because emotionally she can’t cope, I will get a professional person to help her. I would not tell her to feel positive. I would tell her to be strong.
Yes, being positive makes it easier to cope. It does! If I had to sit in a corner and cry it would kill my kids. It would hurt my parents and Tommie. It would not be good for our family. It would make working difficult and generally life would suck. I know this is why people tell you to be positive. I get that. Please don’t think that I’m not thankful. Again, I know it comes from such a good and caring place.
Just sit back and think how it affects a cancer patient though. Someone who normally does feel positive and thankful for what they have and how “healthy” they actually are. It makes it so difficult to admit that some days are just really crap. That emotionally it feels too much.
I am thankful. Hugely thankful. It could have been so much worse.
Today though, today feels crap. I didn’t want my mom to go through this. I’m proud of her for choosing to give herself every possible chance there is to fight this. She is one strong woman. It’s okay when she’s not as well.
I’m not a hero. Just a normal person, fighting for my life.