Why it’s OK not to be positive! (plus some funny cartoons on cancer)

FOL personality

Image credit: “Cancer made me a Shallower Person” by Miriam Engelberg. Click to enlarge.

Updated 25 Jan 2014:  I recently came across this quote in a blog post by chemobabe which pretty much sums up what I was trying to put across in my post:  

“Treatment sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

While attitude may influence compliance, it does not otherwise influence outcome.

The right treatment for the disease is what counts. …  

I think it’s disappointing to come to terms with the fact that positivity is not going to determine the outcome. …  

I will tell you that the women I admire most are the ones who flourish not because of their good attitude, but because of their unflinching honesty.”

So … let it all hang out.  Being authentic is more important than being positive.

Being positive and the Law of Attraction and Cancer

There is this New Age philosophy that people with cancer must remain positive.

There’s also another New Age meme that holds that somehow, people are responsible for their cancers.  Or the popular Law of Attraction which implies that people with cancer attracted their cancers to themselves like some sort of warped anti-health magnet.

What I attempt to do in this post, is to trace the roots of these beliefs, why it seems to apply only to cancer, why I think it’s dangerous, and what we can do to counteract it. There are also loads of funny cartoons on cancer to liven things up.

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Book Review – “Cancer Etiquette” (Part 2) – what to say and not to say to someone who has cancer


Updated 15 April 2014 with more personal additions

From the book “Cancer Etiquette” by Rosanne Kalick – one of the best books in the market offering guidance on what not to say and what to say to people who have cancer. [Unfortunately it is only available as a hardcover book.  Amazon has some used copies].

I’ve covered some of the mistakes people make when speaking to someone who has cancer in Part 1, as mentioned in Rosanne Kalick’s book.

In Part 2, Rosanne Kalick shares some tips on what not to say, and to say, to someone who has cancer.  I’ve since updated this post with my personal additions, so it’s hard to separate what is Rosanne Kalick’s and what is mine, but the bones of this post is from her book.

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Book review: “Cancer Etiquette” (Part 1)

footmouthI was talking to someone who had a device that he claimed could heal diseases (including cancer).

Mid-way through, he said to me:  “you know, we’re all going to die some day, so that might help you to face what you’ve got.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Yes, we’re all going to die someday, but mate, you’re not the one with cancer, and not the one with one foot (metaphorically) in the grave.  And cancer is not a walk in the park.

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Family Constellations workshops should carry a health warning

In the belief that cancer may have at its root cause mental and emotional reasons, I explored a lot of psycho-spiritual forms of healing.


Family Constellations holds that illness has its root cause in ancestral traumas – we are all interconnected

One of these was Family Constellations therapy.  This post is a health warning for anyone new to Family Constellations therapy – it can be a psychologically-damaging form of therapy in the hands of the wrong practitioner.

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Book Review “Speak the Language of Healing”

Book:  “Speak the Language of Healing:  Living with Breast Cancer without Going to War“.

Authors:  Susan Kuner, Carol Matzkin Orsborn, Linda Quigley, Karen Leigh Stroup

Publisher:  Conari Press


This is one of the best books I’ve read on how to deal with cancer.

Most books tell us that cancer is a war. We are told we have to fight it … it is a battle.  Cancer becomes a disease filled with aggressive terminology, there are conflicts, it is the enemy to be vanquished, and the people who have cancer are victims.  People who make it through the treatment are survivors and winners.  Those who die from it are defeated and seen as losers and failures.

For some, using military metaphors is helpful.  But for others, this book shows us there is a new way of thinking about and living with a life-threatening illness.

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To tell or not to tell

Apart from this blog, only you, and I, and a few other people in my life know about my cancer.

(Which is like saying the whole world and me, and quite contradictory, but the fact is, I’m still anonymous and I like to keep it this way.)

I know that not everyone will have this very private approach to cancer.  I’ve chosen to confide in as few people as possible for the following reasons:

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