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Maintaining a positive attitude, and positive thinking as you fight melanoma is sometimes hard to do, but very important to the success of your treatment. Those who fight and beat melanoma, even at Stage 4, often cite their ability to think positive thoughts, and stay positive overall, as one of the most important tools in their melanoma treatment fight. Remember: many people before you have beaten melanoma, and you can too! Don’t ever forget that.
Effect of Positive Attitude and Thinking on Melanoma
Many patients who beat melanoma say that one of the most important things they did that helped a lot was maintaining and positive attitude and positive thinking. The most important attitude of all is to remember and repeat to yourself that you can win! So don’t ever give up. Take mental breaks from your fight with melanoma to get out, get away and forget about it. And when you start feeling down, repeat positive thoughts to yourself. Remember this: if you think it, you can make it happen.
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Research Evidence on Positive Attitude and Thinking
- The BBC wrote an article citing a few studies that suggested mental attitude has an impact on cancer treatment success. 1
- Dr. Richard J. Davidson, director of the University of Wisconsin's Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience published a paper in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which showed that negative thinking actually weakens the immune system.2 (Having a healthy immune system is extremely important to the successful treatment of any ailment.)
- Further, an online review sites a study of 99 Harvard University students, those who were optimists at 25 were significantly healthier at ages 45 and 60. 3
- In a retrospective study of 34 healthy Hall of Fame baseball players who played between 1900 and 1950, optimists lived significantly longer.4
How to Use Positive Attitude and Thinking
Believe in yourself: It’s your body, and your life, and you are in control. Sometimes all of us need a little help, and that’s what your doctors are doing – giving you a little help. But remember, it’s your body. You are as much a part of this fight against melanoma as any drugs, medicines, or supplements. You can be in control: remember, you are the one who is going to beat cancer, because you are the most powerful weapon of all! Of course, sometimes when you’re feeling down, its hard to believe in yourself all the time. Here are some tips you can try in those moments:
- Get a little exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the house. Remember, you’re in control of your body and you can get out and do that, even when you’re not feeling well.
- Lift your arms and legs, flex your muscles, move your hands and feet. Remind yourself that it’s your body and you are in control.
- Remember some of those times when you got sick in the past – maybe it was a flu, maybe it was a cold. You couldn’t see those little viruses in you, but your body could – and it beat them. You body is incredibly powerful, and you can win the fights when you set your mind to it.
- Think about challenges you have overcome in the past. Maybe a big test at school. Maybe some personal hardship. Maybe an athletic goal. We all have challenges we’ve faced, and I’m sure you have had them too. Now remember how at the time, it seemed almost insurmountable. And yet now, after you’ve gotten through, it is well in your past. Remember that sometimes when you’re in the middle of a battle, the challenge seems too great, but you have gotten through before, and you can get through again.
Think Positively – Maintaining a positive attitude, even in the face of great challenge, is an important part of navigating life’s complexities, and an important part of healing. Positive thinking can be an important tool in your fight against melanoma. Here are some ideas for how you can maintain a positive attitude and positive thinking:
- Practice eliminating negative thoughts about this challenge. Sometimes that can be hard to do, so one technique you can use is called “The Doubling Game.” Make a pact with yourself that every time you have a negative thought and catch yourself, you’re going to force yourself to have two positive thoughts. It’s ok if you repeat the same positive thoughts over and over, just make sure you tell yourself positive thoughts twice as many times as the negative ones. For example.
- If you think, “I am scared” then force yourself to think, “I am brave” two times. * If you think, “I don’t think I can beat this”, then force yourself to think, “I can win this fight” and repeat it two times. * If you think, “I’m too tired, I can’t go on” then force yourself to think, “I can find the strength to get through this” and repeat it two times.
- Find stories of other people out there who have faces challenges that go far against the odds, and yet they prevailed. Use those stories as inspiration and guidance about your own battle and challenge. There are thousands and thousands of stories like this out there, but here are some examples of stories you can explore: * * The story of Ernest Shackleton – He attempted to explore Antarctica in 1914 when his boat got stuck in the ice. He was stranded there, with little food or hope of ever escaping. Yet he kept a positive attitude and against all odds, he and many of his men, survived and escaped. There is a fantastic movie about this called “The Endurance”(5). * The story of Helen Keller. She was born deaf and blind, yet she had the will and the attitude to get past her health challenges. She learned to read, speak, and write, and soon became an author, political activist, and inspiration for an entire nation(6). * Franklin Roosevelt – At the age of 39, he contracted an illness that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He would be in a wheel chair for the rest of his life, and suffer increasingly debilitated health. Yet he did not let this stop him, and he went on to become one of the greatest Presidents of the United States. * Lance Armstrong - at age 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer. The cancer had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. His chances of survival were bleak. Yet maintained a positive attitude and fought hard. He went on to not only beat the cancer, but to win the Tour de France seven times in a row! * Stephen Hawking – just after arriving at graduate school as a young man, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, which subsequently caused him to lose almost all neuromuscular control. However, he did not let this stop him, and is now regarded as one of the most important and influential scientists the world has ever known.
Surround yourself with positive people. The people around you can have a profound influence on your own life and attitude. When you are facing a difficult challenge like melanoma, it’s important to surround yourself with the people in your life who are positive thinkers with positive attitudes. When you do spend more and more time with positive people, you will find that their attitude starts to transfer to you.
Maintain a Positive Self-Image – Maintaining a positive self image is an important tool in your battle. Just because you are feeling ill, tired, etc. doesn’t mean you have to feel bad about yourself. Additionally, it is important that you not “spiral” down as you fight your battle with melanoma. Some tools that might help you are: dressing up, keeping yourself groomed and clean, wearing your favorite clothes, going out with friends, and more. You don’t, and shouldn’t let your fight with melanoma stop you from taking care of yourself in a broader sense.
Remember, you can win! – There are thousands of people out there who have faced the same challenge you are facing, and beat it. You can do that too, so believe in yourself and your ability to heal.
4 http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/cvabs.htm%23ab106 (see abstract 111); http://stress.about.com/od/optimismspirituality/a/optimismbenefit.htm
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