Can We Be Happy While Living with Cancer?
Guest post from Dr. Shyamali Singhal, MD
Founder of Hope & Beauty
Cancer is an awful disease that affects all walks of human life. Issues linked to the quality of life are vitally important for patients’ chances of recovery. We’ll discuss this topic further in this blog.
Does Patients’ Attitude Really Affect The Chances Of Cancer Survival?
Television, newspapers, and social media imply that cancer patients keep their own fate in their own hands. Patients are expected to increase their odds of a positive outcome of their treatment by means of positive thinking or by utilizing a determined, fighter mentality. But, there is no reliable scientific data to show a link between one’s personality or coping mechanisms and their ultimate survival and recovery. Studies that do show a positive relationship between positive thinking and quick recovery are generally of inferior methodology. All those studies are considerably smaller than studies with null conclusions.
Psychotherapeutic interventions may advance the quality of life, lifestyle, and treatment agreement in patients with cancer, but no randomized controlled trials have shown any positive effects of psychotherapy on the final outcome. There is also no solid proof that the cancer experience does enhance one’s ability to enjoy life or lead to personal growth or comfort.
Surviving And Living- These Two Things Are Not The Same
The scientific and technological progress that has transpired in the second half of the twentieth century defined major changes in the course of the disease of cancer. However, this increase in survival rates has brought about another kind of matter linked to comorbidities and limitations that occur as a consequence of living with a chronic illness. In general, we do live much longer than in centuries past, but this improvement in life expectancy does not always match to a better quality of one’s life. Survival is sometimes just that- survival.
Recent studies have shown that the concept of quality of life is closely associated with self-perception about wellbeing, content with life, and overall happiness. In this context, health professionals, particularly in the setting of palliative care—who have the mission to help patients attain the best achievable quality of life for the patient and family. They have been incited to study and find strategies that let the person attain moments of happiness and wellbeing, even in difficult times, as the reality of cancer or terminal disease certainly is.
Scientific Studies And Personal Accounts
There are no scientific studies or randomized controlled trials that objectively measure the impact of happiness on health. There are some available studies done by psychologists, but happiness, or any emotion for that matter, is extremely hard to estimate accurately.
So many doctors, Dr. Shyamali Singhal, surgical oncologist and founder of H&B among them, procured their knowledge from years of up-close and personal interactions with numerous patients. In her experience, idealists tend to have better health than pessimists.
Even though cancer patients may feel distressing symptoms and health-related changes in their quality of life, they may also often report certain positive emotional states and times of happiness. The lives of caregivers of cancer patients may also be influenced and significantly changed by the patient’s cancer diagnosis. However, patients are known to also find advantages in their actions. Notable changes are described in personal accounts after an oncologic diagnosis. This can lead people to restructure their values and the way they perceive life.
Working On Our Happiness
There’s some good science to back up the benefit of writing our concerns and fears on a sheet of paper. Even if you don’t enjoy writing, try journaling just for a while.
Also, listening to your favorite music has the undeniable power to affect your frame of mind. This is why calming music is played in elevators, and upbeat music is played in stores, and inspiring music is played at sporting events. Think about ways you can be of service to somebody in need, based on your life experiences.
Read beautiful recovery stories — how people can find good coming from the pain and how they used the challenge of cancer to fill their hearts with joy through giving back.