How I focus on the positive when cancer gets me down

Our blogger Elana Waldman shares her tips for focusing on the positive during her cancer treatments.

Married couple holding hands

Photo: Masterfile

I know it’s almost February, but I want to start by wishing everyone a happy new year. May 2013 bring you health, happiness, love and success. Hopefully this is the year where the negatives in our lives are turned around so that we have only positive energy surrounding us.

Having said that – my last blog was clearly written when I was in a bad mood. Yes, I do get those. Most people say that they always see me optimistic and happy but that is because when I am down I stay home. When I am not feeling well I hibernate in my house and only my family has to suffer with my negativity. The moods do come – how could they not? Thankfully though, they don’t dominate most of my days. The following story is the best example of what my attitude normally is:

The other day I was in the hospital getting my weekly blood test to ensure that my levels were alright to receive chemo. As I was leaving the blood lab, a man who was there with his mother leaned over to a woman who was there with her father (they did not know each other and the parents were both inside the lab having their blood drawn). Without any attempt to lower his voice in a room full of cancer patients, he said to her, “This place is so depressing.” I didn’t even stop to think. I just turned around, looked him straight in the eye and said, “or uplifting, depending on your perspective.”

The conversation continued with him telling me that he had been through these hospital experiences with his mother and how difficult it was. I said he had to look at the positive that occurred at this place and then he asked me whether I had been poked and prodded and made to feel essentially like a pin cushion. Clearly he did not think I was a patient. I responded, “Yes, every week for over seven years they have poked at me and look at me now.” The woman that he had been addressing his original comment to applauded and then I just walked out with a huge smile on my face.

Yes, I do get into bad moods. I wouldn’t be normal if I was always happy. I do question why my family and I have been burdened with this illness and everything that is attendant with it. However, for the most part I really do see the positive that has been done. I look at the hospital and marvel at the advancements that have been made and the people whose lives have been saved. I think about the fact that I was not supposed to live beyond five years and it has already been more than seven. I focus on the beauty that I have been able to have in my life and cherish those times. I know that there continue to be challenges in my path and there will be more difficult times ahead, but I also know that there will be the opportunity to create some beautiful memories and there will be magic to celebrate. I choose to focus on the magic.

* I’d like to clarify something: I am happily married to Mark Waldman. A couple of posts ago, I was talking about all the things that make up who I am. I listed the work I have done, the fact that I have changed cities, my friends and many other elements, including the fact that I am divorced. Some people expressed concern that this referenced Mark. I can assure you that we are not divorced and have no intention of divorcing. Thankfully I am blessed with a loving and supportive husband and he is not getting rid of me that easily. I was however married before I met Mark. It was a ‘starter marriage’ — short duration, no kids. He was not the right person for me in the long run but I don’t regret the decision or the experience because it brought me to where I am today. So, to be clear, the reference to my divorcing had nothing to do with Mark.

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