A positive attitude is good for your immune system. One nurse in my ACOR peer group wrote, “Patients who are engaged in their care and actively seek out knowledge and the best treatments automatically put themselves above the median.” If you’re looking for every way to improve your odds, think about that.
But it’s also important to be straight with yourself about how you feel, even when it’s not pretty. Face it: however you feel, that’s how you feel! Saying “I shouldn’t feel that way” creates a depleting struggle inside you, when you want all your resources to go into healing.
I’m not saying you should wallow and moan; that wouldn’t get you anywhere. But there were days when what I needed to say was, “I feel like crap!” I felt empowered because I could tell the truth to myself and others – and feeling empowered is good for your immune system, I’m certain.
Even when things look grim, you can choose how to view it. In my first few terrifying weeks, knowing that laughter has health benefits, I asked people to send me DVDs of Warner Brothers cartoons. When I told my doctor I was considering quitting my chorus he said, “You don’t want to start dropping life activities that you love. It sends the wrong message.” So I said “Okay, now my treatment is to laugh and sing!” Then he told me to gain weight, and sent me a diet on how to eat more calories: “Put real whipped cream on every dessert,” “Real butter – no more margarine,” etc. Tough duty!
So I told friends “If I ever write a book about this, I’ll call it ‘Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig.'” When my cancer journal reached the one-year mark, I published it, with that title. You can read it here.