Everyone has a bad day now and again…. Everyone!

An interesting question came up on a cancer board that I participate in… “Do you think that if cancer patients acknowledge that they may die from their cancer their outcome is affected? In other words, should cancer patients avoid talking about their own death?”

Well, this question really hits home with me, because if there’s one thing that a cancer diagnosis makes a person think about… it’s death.  And so, I decided that I would share my answer here on my blog.  So, here it is:

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! But choose wisely! Some people have really gotten onto that “positive attitude” bandwagon, and you’ll get a really hard time if you show even the smallest hint of fear or show signs of just plain having a bad day.

One of my co-workers kept telling me that she just knew I’d “beat this thing.” Finally, one day, I said something like, no- you don’t know that. And she berated me about not having a positive attitude.

So, choose wisely. I hope you have a few close friends and/or family members who are able to let you just have a bad moment (or two or three).

During the early stages of my diagnosis, I was honestly afraid I wouldn’t see my child make it to middle school. Now, I’m nearing the end of my treatment plan, which has gone very well, and I’m substantially more optimistic. But, early on, I was scared to death that I was stage IV and would be dead in months… The usual fears. I didn’t really tell anyone until I had a lot more information…. But I did have a few very close friends with whom I felt safe about showing my fear. That made a huge difference… even though I didn’t feel safe showing my fear with 90+% of people around me.

I don’t know if that helps… I hope it does. I think it’s important to talk about fears… And EVERYONE has bad days sometimes… as cancer patients… we seem to be expected to maintain this magic positive attitude at all times, even when we simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed or someone gives us bad news or whatever. Guess what? We’re still regular people, and we can have bad days too!

SO, that’s my advice – DO talk about your fears of death and dying or even of horrible side effects and surgery …. Just choose wisely in terms of people who CAN listen and keep confidential what you need to say…..

HUGS! I’m sorry you have cancer.



About rleepenn

I'm a mom and a chemistry professor, and I love to ride bikes! On July 29th, 2011, I received the news that I have breast cancer. This is my blog....
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3 Responses to Everyone has a bad day now and again…. Everyone!

  1. Susan Burroughs Soltis says:

    Well put!

  2. Jeannette Brown says:

    When I was first diagnoist the Cancer Institue of New Jersey Social Workers sent me a document call Five Wishes. In it you document how you want to be treated. In the end you get to plan your own funeral and write your own obituary. I did that and I want to be at my funeral (memorial Service) it should be fun.
    Anyway I have it along with my Will and formal document as to how to treat me. I carry it with me when I travel in case something happens to me.
    On the listserve that I am on people talk about possible death but they also talk about the positive things. I do both and I have not talked about the negative since I am now 8 years post diagnosis and four years post chemo.
    But death is a part of life so you must know that everyone will die whether or not you have cancer so take every day as a gift and keep going.

  3. “Some people have really gotten onto that “positive attitude” bandwagon, and you’ll get a really hard time if you show even the smallest hint of fear or show signs of just plain having a bad day.” If I recall, this is a major topic of discussion in a Barbara Ehrenreich book that I have been wanting to read, but haven’t yet read, for the last year! I think the book specifically talks about women who are diagnosed with cancer and the expectation that some people/members of society have of cancer patients, particularly females, that they’re to smile and be perfectly calm and optimistic at all times–no outward displays of uncertainty, pessimism or any of the very real emotions we all experience which can be, I imagine, magnified for cancer patients at times. Anyway, the book is called “Bright Sided,” have you read it?

    P.S. I have heard great things about the Angel Foundation and I am glad that you’ve found that resource to be helpful!


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