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It’s Okay to Be Real

by Gail Hamm, program director

I sometimes hear people say, “It’s all about attitude. You can’t be negative.” But do you always have to feel “up,” or have a positive attitude at all times, for fear that any painful feelings will make the cancer worse? No.

While attitude can make a difference, life is not about the tribulation, but about how we react to the ordeal. Feelings are neither good nor bad…they just are. It is healthy to allow yourself to feel the whole realm of feelings, both painful and joyful. It is far better to feel the feelings and then release them, than to try to avoid the feelings, stuff them, or reject them. That is because feelings have a way of sneaking up later and catching you off guard. No matter how much you struggle to avoid painful feelings, they will eventually appear…as out-of-control behaviors, migraines, ulcers, and so forth. Freely expressing your feelings in socially acceptable ways can actually be helpful to the immune system and assist in healing.

A Cancer Services’ Client Advocate or support group, a trusted friend, counselor or spiritual leader are all resources for healthy living. Go ahead, it’s okay to doubt, risk, whine, celebrate …be real!