The worst thing you hear when you have cancer? Staying positive is the most important thing!

The worst thing you hear when you have cancer? Staying positive is the most important thing!

When I was told I had breast cancer my life was already a mess. I felt helpless, overwhelmed and out of control; cancer seemed like the final straw.

It didn’t help that I kept on hearing about needing to stay positive. I had been depressed for much of my adult life – how on earth could I start feeling positive now that I also had a double mastectomy, radiotherapy, two courses of chemotherapy and an uncertain future ahead of me?

It still amazes me that I did. Not in the spontaneous way that some people talk about – flowers didn’t suddenly smell sweeter, nor did the rest of my problems simply cease to exist. Feeling more positive was something I learned to do.

The first step was understanding that I didn’t have to pretend to be happy all the time, or that I never felt sad or afraid. Feeling positive was not a weighty responsibility – another burden I had to bear. It was about helping myself to feel better, as simple as that.

New technology. The same princples.

When I wrote You can get through this! I was still in the final weeks of treatment and very eager to share all that I had learned. 13 years on, it is in its second edition and available as an e-book, which still sounded like science fiction in 2000. But more important to me are the things that haven’t changed.

I still live my life by the same principles.

New challenges inevitably arise and, when they do, I draw on the same strategies to help me to cope with them. For me, feeling more positive isn’t just about cancer, it’s about the quality of my everyday life.