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Cancer Support: When Your Cancer Comes Back or Gets Worse - Topic Overview

Finding the positive side

Having someone tell you to "stay positive" might make you just plain mad at first. But the fact is that staying positive actually helps your body heal.

Research shows that what your brain produces depends in part on your thoughts, feelings, and expectations. If you're sick but you have hope and a positive attitude and you believe that you'll get better, your brain is likely to produce chemicals that will boost your body's healing power.1

You can learn to be more positive by changing how you think and act. And when you take control of your outlook, you gain a little more control over your life.

Change how you think

  • Face your fear. It's normal to be afraid. But it's important to acknowledge your fears—talk about them, even—and then try not to dwell on them.
  • Stay present. Notice when you are telling yourself things about your future, and then try to bring yourself back to the present.
  • Take control. Think about the things in your life that you have control over, and take control over them. For example, you can control whether or not you have visitors.

Change how you act

  • Seek out people who make you feel better. Develop a support network.
  • Believe in yourself. Do things to gain self confidence and build self-esteem.
  • Do things that you enjoy. See a movie. Laugh with your friends. Know what's important to you.
  • Be thankful for the good you see around you.

Using what you know

You've coped with cancer before. You know a lot about it and about your coping skills. You can use that knowledge now.

It may feel like cancer is controlling your life, but you're still in charge. Think about what worked—and what didn't work—during past treatments:

  • What side effects did you have? What can you do to plan for managing those side effects in the future?
  • Who was in your support network? Make sure those people are on your team again this time around.
  • What things were hardest to cope with before? What can you do this time to make it easier?

Setting goals—large and small—is another way to stay in charge. For example, if one of your goals is to attend a family wedding in 2 months, make a list of the smaller goals that will get you there, like eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise every day.

Being an active patient is a way to feel more in control. Talk to your doctor about your feelings, and ask lots of questions. Ask for copies of your medical records. Know what your treatment is going to be and why your doctor is recommending it.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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