Thursday, September 01, 2011

smiling can't cheat death

I'm a reasonably happy person. And I believe that concentrating on the half full part of the glass has helped me to cope with many aspects of my life, including breast cancer. However, there have been times when a good wallow or a raging tantrum have been just as necessary and cathartic.

And I don't, for even a second, think that people who worried too much, or got mad or who didn't have a positive attitude brought cancer or their own deaths upon themselves. Nor do I believe that temperament or attitude is what causes one person to go into remission and another to succumb to the illness. I find the belief system that blames the patient to be repugnant.

In many ways, cancer is a crap shoot. It helps to have excellent medical care, good nutrition and the resources that help you cope with the disease and the treatments' side effects. But luck plays a big role in survival as well.

I've been thinking about this lately, and so it appears have other women. Yesterday, I stumbled on a great post at Uneasy Pink, by Katie, who, in turn, pointed the way to Coco, guest-posting at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. These women really tell it like it is.

Last week, Canada lost Jack Layton, a leader who was, by all accounts active, optimistic and happy. And we lost him way too young. Many media reports used the common phrase "lost his battle with cancer." Jack didn't lose a battle - there was no failure on his part - he got cancer and died. No amount of positive thinking could have changed that.

(Shout out to my friend Sharon, who first used the phrase "tyranny of positive thinking" in my presence. She has kindred spirits out there, too).

Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer.


Marie said...

Hi Laurie- I am so pleased that I have found your blog through your comment on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, and I look forward to getting to know you better in the blogosphere. Thanks for an insightful post on this theme, one which has really sparked a great debate among bloggers this week.

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog via the weekly round up on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer and this post really resonated with me!

JuliaR said...

My grandmother lived to be 98 and she was cantankerous and mean spirited most of the time. Another dear honourary "aunt" of mine lived to be 94 and she was the embodiment of gracious and kind and engaged. So you are right - it's a crap shoot!

It's the same with other attitudes. People excused a certain man for his bad attitude by saying that it was because he spent 5 years in a POW camp in Siberia. But think of all those folks who survived the Nazi concentration camps and lived kind and caring lives until they were very old.

I get more and more Buddhist as I get older.

laurie said...

Thanks to all three of you for understanding. It makes a difference to me - knowing that others feel the same way.