December 12, 2008

"You've got to have a positive attitude" -- feh!

Today I was interviewed for a short film to be screened at Gilda's Club Seattle's annual fashion show and fundraiser next spring. I attend yoga class regularly. I've been there just about every Friday for the past four years. So I was happy to say yes to the interview request. And to participate in the fashion show. And to help the committee achieve it's fundraising goals. Gilda's Club really is a place where people living with cancer can "come as we are."

But one question today really got me. The interviewer said she thought I had a really positive attitude and that made a difference. I reacted very strongly to this, one of my hot button issues.

Cancer is the only disease I can think of where people say that those of us who've got it must have a positive attitude. Well, there's very little about cancer to be positive about! Having cancer is terrible. No one would choose to have cancer. And those of us who have cancer need to be able to express ourselves. If we feel good, that's fine. But if we feel ill, or the treatments are rough on us, or we're depressed, or we're angry, or you name it -- we need to be able to express those feelings.

It's true that I'm a glass-half-full kind of person, always have been, even with metastatic cancer. But even I have times when I need to cry or rage against the universe for sticking me with this awful disease. It's just that other people usually don't get to see it.

So when someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, don't focus on being positive. Show support, ask how you can help, offer a shoulder to lean on. Let the person living in CancerLand say whatever they need to say. Be strong enough to listen to them, even if (especially if) they need to talk about their fears.

That's what we need from our family and friends.

2 comments:

  1. I agree.

    It's wonderful to focus on living life to the fullest, using lemons to make lemonade, etc., but people say things to cancer patients they would never say to people with diabetes or heart disease.

    Feh indeed!

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  2. while attitude is important, there are many factors in cancer and its treatment.
    I have not heard of anyone laughing there way to 100% removal of cancer, yet, a good laugh is always a sign of health and healing.
    Thanks for telling it like it is!

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I dance with cancer. Oy!