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.
I am enamoured by your post and your loving thoughts for your precious Mum..I won’t say for you to be positive I will be positive for you by sending you energy love and light, you and your beautiful Mum deserve a break cancer does suck and believe me I will be peddling so hard here giving you the energy to endure, I had no idea how devestatingly intrusive this mongrel disease is. Give yourself a break, sleep when you need it, cry when you have to, you have the most amazing kids and family they know and understand your life’s shitty journey that will definitely end well for you and your Mum..I love you guys you are family, I am so looking forward to my visit sooner than later hopefully. I want to be there for support to you both. If I leave it to later in the year I can stay longer and that’s possibly what will happen..love and warm hugs Aunty Kez xxx
January 31, 2018 at 9:11 am
Thank you so much Aunty Kez. I appreciate this. You are very much part of our family. Can’t wait to see you.
January 31, 2018 at 12:19 pm
I love you so much. I fight tears for every joke we make about cancer. I hate how petrified I feel at the thought of losing you. Imagine how you feel if I am the spectator?
January 31, 2018 at 9:19 am
I know how you feel Melany. I feel the same about you. We will both best this ❣️❣️
January 31, 2018 at 9:57 am
Ai Melany – net liefde, wat kan ek anders se?
January 31, 2018 at 11:36 am
Oh, dear Melany! You probably don’t remember me, but don’t worry about it! I’m Julia, we met once while you visited Poland with your Parents.
I’m a translator and I get to translate a TV show made in South Africa, so I was thinking about you. I checked the internet, I found your Twitter, and then your blog. Started to read about the cancer… Just want you to know, that I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you and I’m sending my warmest thoughts. I know it’s tough, but I’m absolutely sure, that if anyone’s going to fight this shit off, it’s you!
Please, give my regards to your Parents.
PS. Okay, and another disaster: how come Quintus is 17 yo?! How old am I, then????
March 29, 2018 at 8:14 pm
Hi Julia! I do remember! We had such a lovely trip. I often think back at the time we were there. How sweet of you to look me up 🙂 How awesome that you have a connection with South Africa now! I am not letting cancer win. There is just no way. I must tell you that even I have to pinch myself when I look at Quintus. He has grown into such a caring young man. I’m very proud of him. I suppose that also means that we are getting older! I lived hearing from you. I hope you are well.
April 27, 2018 at 7:33 am
Being the helpless bystander when seeing someone you love tackle cancer …. induces anger in me. I know it’s probably wrong, but the alternative is to fall in a heap and wail uselessly. And that doesn’t get anyone to the oncology unit on time.
The real problem is not being able to take aim at a legitimate target with that anger, so I am spinning around trying to see what I can take a whack at. Repeatedly.
April 17, 2018 at 10:52 am
With my mom also going through cancee treatment, I get where you are coming from. On the one side I am fighting my own battle and I’m not that angry but I’m angry because she has it. I totally understand.
April 27, 2018 at 7:30 am
You are very right. As humans, I think we need something to direct our anger towards and with cancer it’s difficult. I can’t very well throw a plate at cancer. We stand up tall, put on a brave face. J
May 14, 2018 at 8:36 am