Your thoughts have power. They have power when you translate them to action in the world. But they have power even upon your own body.
Researchers have found that long-term attitudes can affect our overall health. One study found greater emotional vitality corresponded with lower chances of heart disease and stroke. By contrast, people who dwelled on their negative emotions are more likely to suffer from chronic stress. So, where does this leave people suffering from mesothelioma?
How your attitude can affect your treatment
The first thing to understand is that it’s natural for mesothelioma victims to feel sad or depressed at times. As the American Cancer Society (ACA) notes, it’s normal for your emotions to flag sometimes. But they can also go back up. Day-to-day changes are natural.
Nevertheless, many have questioned whether a positive attitude may lead to better outcomes. Conversely, they have also explored whether a negative attitude leads to worse outcomes. Conventional wisdom suggests that would make sense, but is conventional wisdom right?
The answer is: Not quite.
There are plenty of reasons to maintain a positive attitude during treatment. But the power of the mind to beat cancer is not one of them. Studies have not found a direct link between better attitudes and the ability to beat cancer. Instead, they found:
- No links between cancer and personalities or attitudes
- Significant flaws in the studies that suggested links between attitudes and treatment outcomes
- Positive attitudes can still lead to a better quality of life
As the ACA reports, these are important truths because many people wonder if they shouldn’t do more. They wonder if their attitudes are holding them back. They feel guilty for their negative feelings. But those feelings are natural. If you suffer doubt or depression for a while, that’s normal. You’re not holding back your cancer treatment.
That said, if you can bounce back, you’re more likely to enjoy the time you have. This is the same as for everyone. Emotional resilience and vitality help everyone, not just cancer victims. And it can help to find a group of people who will listen to you, care for you and support you along the way.
The link between better mental health and cancer treatment
While the data don’t support the idea that a good attitude can cure cancer, your mental health is still a key part of your treatment. It’s the difference between finding the glass half-full or half-empty. The more you’re able to appreciate the half-full glasses before you, the better your treatment. The big improvement, here, is in your quality of life.
For many, this means that support groups and counseling are important parts of their mesothelioma treatment. If you’re not already benefitting from these resources, you may want to ask how you can access them.