Renowned American poet Walt Whitman once said, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you”. Quotes such as these from famous people and family members alike are forever encouraging us to look at life more positively. Indeed, studies have even shown that positive attitudes can help children learn better and faster .
Having said that, it is one thing to shift one’s perspective towards positivity when things are going well in our lives and it is quite another to try to think positively when our lives have been affected by a devastating illness. Cancer, for instance, can bring about a sense of gloom in an entire household. It can be a difficult time not only for the person diagnosed with the illness but for his or her family as well.
However, one might argue that it is exactly difficult circumstances such as these that most require a person to embrace a positive mindset. It is only by deliberately turning one’s attention to positivity that one can hope to get rid of the hopelessness and despair that a disease like cancer can bring with it. In fact, positive thinking might turn out to be an essential part of beating cancer and helping a patient with their survival and recovery.
What is the link between cancer and positive thinking?
Everyone can agree that a positive attitude must go a long way in providing relief to a cancer patient. Some “alternative” methods of treatment even claim to be able to cure cancer with positive thoughts and the power of the mind. However, these are generally untested and ineffective forms of treatment that only seek to prey on vulnerable people looking for a last resort.
Unfortunately, the truth is that there is no scientific evidence directly linking positive attitude with cancer survival. This is largely because it is a correlation that has been rarely studied or researched in the past. However, there are studies that have shown that cancer patients who engage in positive thinking are far less likely to be re-hospitalized than others . There are also clinical trials underway that aim to uncover the direct connection between positivity and cancer recovery. 
The role of positivity in beating cancer
This might prompt the question: If there is no link between positive thinking and cancer survival, what is the point of focusing on staying positive during my fight with cancer? This is a valid question. However, let us remember that while there is no scientific link between the two, there are several psychological benefits of encouraging positive thinking during one’s cancer treatment.
This is because a devastating disease like cancer not only affects a person’s physical body, but affects their mental and emotional health as well. And while a cancer patient might be regularly undergoing treatment to treat the physical effects of the disease, they may be overlooking the emotional toll it might be taking on their minds. Also, keep in mind that cancer can also have an overwhelming mental impact on the family members of the person diagnosed with the disease. They may even be struggling with feelings of fear, regret or helplessness.
A positive mindset can help people diagnosed with cancer to instead focus on the more hopeful aspects of their lives. Studies have indeed shown that by approaching a serious disease like cancer with some form of faith, optimism and even humour, patients can greatly improve their quality of life . Hence, deliberate attempts to lighten one’s mood or focusing solely on positive pieces of news can go a long way in the journey towards beating cancer.
Positive thinking can also curb feelings of fear and anger and even help patients avoid falling prey to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It can also improve their resilience during the treatment stage as well as their capacity to accept medical and physical treatments .
Most importantly, a positive mindset can help cancer patients recognise and feel gratitude for the love and support they receive from their loved ones during the various stages of their treatment. It can help the entire family to gain the strength and courage they require during the difficult time and in turn, provide the emotional support the patient needs.
Provide a safe space for your emotions
Positive thinking can indeed make the journey to beating cancer much easier. But it is also important to remember that a critical illness like cancer can be a period of emotional difficulty. This means that while a positive attitude is essential, there must also be space for an individual and their family members to express other less positive emotions as well.
Optimism can greatly help in coping with the disease. But the individual should still feel comfortable in expressing any sorrow, anger or distress they may be experiencing. Ignoring or suppressing such feelings can lead them to feel extremely frustrated, depressed and worst of all, alone.
Therefore, prioritise positivity during your fight against cancer. But also remember not to get overwhelmed by the expectations of keeping a happy face at all times.
That said, you must bear in mind that financial support is just as important as emotional support. Cancer can cost you a fortune. Staying positive is easier for those who can afford treatment; but for those with financial constraints, the road to recovery is several miles longer. Once you know your financial security is taken care of during a medical emergency such as this, it makes the disease a little easier to bear. Opting for cancer insurance is crucial to ensure you can focus on healing and not have to spend a minute worrying about finances.