The topic of maintaining a positive attitude during cancer treatment is brought up time and time again. You can find endless words of encouragement online and there was even a study which looked into whether positive thinking could help fight the disease.
But what does “staying positive” actually mean and more importantly, how do people living with cancer feel about being told to think positively?
We recently received a message from someone in the cancer community who told us that she did not find quotes and messages of positivity helpful. She told us that she thinks “they put pressure on people to be, think, feel, and behave accordingly.” She added: “Not everyone floats through cancer and its treatment with serenity and support. Not everyone is positive the whole way through, nor should they feel obliged to be.”
This really got us thinking – how many other people feel this way? Is she an anomaly or is this the common consensus?
What better way to find out than asking you – our fellow readers and social followers. So yesterday (Aug 24) we hosted our very first Twitter Chat to find out how you feel about cancer and positive thinking.
We had a great turn out, with participants including Bowel Cancer UK, Your Sim Pal, Tea & Chemo author Jackie Buxton and several cancer bloggers and vloggers. For more than an hour, opinions, (some shocking) stories and advice were shared using our Twitter Chat hashtag #LBWcancerchat.
In case you missed it, we’ve rounded up some of the responses to our cancer and positive thinking Twitter Chat below.
The first question we asked was, “Is ‘stay positive’ a helpful piece of advice for cancer patients?”
If someone said: try stay positive about your next scan results and don't worry unless you have to, then can be rly helpful 👌👍
— Lydia B (@lyd_jar) August 24, 2017
Also if you don't actually feel positive then no amount of being told to be positive will help. It has to come from within. #LBWcancerchat
— WombCancerSupportUK (@WombCancerUK) August 24, 2017
It can be Really annoying when people keep telling you to be positive. You need to get there in your own time. Smile, hug & love instead x
— Ways Gone By (@waysgoneby) August 24, 2017
Yes, trying to be positive should be about self-care rather than outside pressure- and there has to be room for anger & grief #LBWcancerchat
— Your simPal (@YoursimPal) August 24, 2017
1) Much more helpful to allow for genuineness. Cancer patients don't need to be told how to feel. No one does. #lbwcancerchat
— Nancy's Point (@NancysPoint) August 24, 2017
@LBWCancer 1. think positivity is good for endorphins & thus coping with cancer, but being told? Could feel like you're 'not trying'…
— Jackie Buxton (@jaxbees) August 24, 2017
The second question we asked was, “What’s the most condescending/annoying advice you’ve heard following your diagnosis?”
2)"It makes you appreciate life more. You must live each second like it's your last" 😒
Like I'm not already exhausted enough#lbwcancerchat
— *kelli* 🌼 (@daisygirl72) August 24, 2017
— Kathleen Burke (@kgburke3) August 24, 2017
Or how about, when they learn I have terminal cancer "Well, at least you don't have kids"
— Suzanne (@athleteonchemo) August 24, 2017