Question: Is it true that a positive attitude will help me through my breast cancer treatments, and what can I do if I have trouble keeping a positive attitude?
Answer: I think a positive attitude is important. It can, however, be overstated. What I describe as the best emotional position in dealing with this situation is realistic optimism. It's important to feel positive and to take decisive action in terms of your treatment. And in dealing with the different aspects of your treatment it's important to maintain a positive outlook. It can be difficult, however, and that's realistic at different times during the treatment, to hold onto that attitude. And it's okay at that point to experience some self-doubt and perhaps even some feelings of pessimism; those are normal feelings that are coincident with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
You have to be careful to not blame yourself, if at times you do feel hopeless and somewhat helpless in the situation. But it's also important to work with those feelings, again, through your family, healthcare providers, and counselors, if necessary, to return back to that balanced optimistic perspective that I think is probably the most conducive to dealing with the stress associated with this illness.
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