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What ? Cancer Survivors Whine and Complain --NEVER!!!


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Connie's thread on venting inspired me to finally look up some articles I read in my Onc's office months ago, about this issue. The first link is to the main article. It's a great article but a little long and sometimes dry.

I recommend reading the side bar article I copied below the link, "Losing One's Right to Complain".

It hits the nail right on the head.

So come on Survivors stand up and Complain. It's our right. :)

http://www.curetoday.com/backissues/v5n ... index.html

Losing One’s Right to Complain

By Cary Vera-Garcia

As Americans, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would like to add that, despite being diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, I also have my sacred right to complain.

A Cancer survivor is expected to always be positive, cheerful and optimistic. If you verbalize any physical complaint whatsoever or fail to have a sunny outlook, you are usually scolded severely by family and friends. Apparently, once you have cancer, you must be so ecstatic about simply being alive that you no longer have the right to say anything negative.

Once you have cancer, bad days must become a thing of the past. Receive a cancer diagnosis and you may never scowl again. If you have hair that is thinning because of chemo, you are told that your hair is beautiful as it is. If you are plumped up with steroids, you are told that you look great with those nice, pink cheeks. You are constantly reminded that you look good, so it must mean that cancer is gone.

You are told that if you remain positive, you will be cured. It doesn’t matter what the doctors tell you. If you have faith, you will be cured. The people that tell you how you should act and feel are the same people that complain about headaches, toothaches, body aches and bad hair days. They have the right to complain because they don’t have a life-threatening illness. They have the luxury of worrying about the little things. I have news for non-cancer survivors—there are a lot of positive cancer patients residing six feet under.

Despite having cancer, I have not suddenly become superhuman. Many of the treatments for cancer feel worse than the disease. I have the right to say that the treatments are difficult to handle. Cancer treatments are expensive and it is normal for me to complain about my finances. I am entitled to feel upset just like anyone else. I am not obligated to act more positive or happier than I actually feel just because I have cancer.

My complaints do not mean that I have given up. They do not mean I will not continue taking treatments. Complaining allows me to vent and work through my feelings. If my family and friends feel uncomfortable being around a person who is honest about her feelings, then I suggest they don’t hang around a cancer survivor. Cancer is difficult enough and I don’t have the time or inclination to put on an act.

Cancer is a lonely disease. If someone wants to help a cancer survivor, they should just listen. While many people are quick to tell me everything will be fine, few people are willing to let me talk about death, fear about treatment and how cancer has changed my life.

If you have rolled your eyes as you listened to your friends admonish you on your less-than-stellar cancer survivor behavior, tell them to be real friends. Tell them to be quiet and listen. Tell them to withhold their judgment on how you should act until they have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Or hand them this essay and walk away. My life is no less precious or lived less well just because I complain.


Negative Thinking Not Necessarily Depression

By Elizabeth Whittington

Studies show that nearly a quarter of cancer patients will have symptoms of depression or an anxiety disorder during treatment. Feelings of anger or sadness about their cancer and the changes it brings are normal and not considered depression.

When diagnosing depression in cancer patients, physicians place more emphasis on symptoms such as loss of pleasure, hope and self-worth that last for more than two weeks instead of symptoms that can also be caused by cancer and its treatments, including fatigue, weight loss and lethargy. Patients should notify their doctor if they experience other signs of depression, which can include indecisiveness, reduced concen-tration, guilt, slowed thinking, and in severe cases, a belief that life is no longer worth living.

Sadness, on the other hand, is a normal component of adjusting and not evidence of depression, says David Kissane, MD, a psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and former president of the International Psycho-Oncology Society. “While sadness is one of many factors that can predispose people to depression, the two mental states are clearly different,” says Dr. Kissane. “Bereaved people, for instance, can still laugh at a joke and enjoy activities during the day. Depressed people lose this ability.”

Anger, irritability, sense of unfairness, uncertainty and shock are all human and appropriate responses to a cancer diagnosis, and may actually help patients cope. A small study on how different types of negative thinking affect quality of life showed that expressing anger was associated with lower rates of depression and a higher quality of life, while fear and anxiety had the opposite result. Feelings of sadness had no effect.

Keeping a gratitude journal, performing acts of kindness or regular contact with other people, such as in a support group, can boost patients’ moods and perhaps help other symptoms. Research shows patients with a support system in place have less anxiety and depression. And although studies say support groups do not prolong life, they may improve quality of life.

Often patients need to talk out their fears and feel validated. Dr. Kissane advises friends and family to listen. “Acknowledge how distressing it is and be there for them.”


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