Most people have probably heard of the saying “is your glass half empty or half full”. If you said ‘half empty’, you have more of a pessimistic view on life; if you said ‘half full’, you tend to have more of an optimistic or positive outlook.
I don’t think a positive outlook actually means you permanently wear ‘rose tinted glasses’ and act like everything is fine. I think it just means you approach potentially negative situations in a more positive and productive way. I agree that sometimes it’s hard not to veer into negative thoughts or actions from time to time. I’m only human and I’ve been in some dark places in the last 5 years since diagnosis. However, I believe to continuously be in ‘half empty mode’ can have a detrimental effect on your health, both physical and mental.
When I was first diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer in 2010, I experienced a whole range of emotions from shock and denial, disbelief and anger followed by grudging acceptance. However, those emotions were quickly followed by what I can only describe as determination, tenacity, strength and rock-solid willpower to face what was in front of me. I cracked on with work as if nothing had happened with only a select few knowing my issue – that was the way I wanted it. I was very much in glass ‘half full mode’. The work took my mind off the cancer whilst I was put through an extraordinary amount of tests and pre-surgical treatment (Neuroendocrine Cancer/Carcinoid patients will understand what I mean). Eventually, I had taken so much time off for tests and treatment, my secret was out. I was about to embark on major surgery and potentially months off work, so the secret had to be exposed in any case. I’m not sure what worried me most, the fact that I had cancer; or that people now knew the invincible Ronny Allan was not superman after all 🙂
Since then I have made it my mission to keep my mind busy and to stay positive despite having something which is not curable. That’s not to say I don’t have bad periods and I’m 100% physically and mentally coping. As I said above, a glass half full outlook means you can approach potentially negative situations in a more positive and productive way. In fact, that strategy was used to lift me from a low point in 2013 to the declaration of a ‘new normal‘.
Like many other Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, I have numerous side effects of both the cancer and the treatment. As an incurable cancer patient, I need to keep an eye on my mind as well as my body. As a 60-year-old, I also have numerous aches, pains and ailments that most people of this age tend to suffer from and it would be very easy to automatically tie all of these in with my cancer. So I don’t.
That’s not to say I’ve become complacent. Far from it, I investigate issues in some depth and follow them up with primary and/or secondary care until I’m satisfied. Additionally, I’ve spoken with quite a few Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and I try to find out how they cope, how they get by. I also do this by reading the blogs or websites of cancer patients and if I feel inspired, I will follow their blog or subscribe to their site.
I don’t rely too much on patient forums for my ‘close support’. Some people tell me they completely avoid forums as they found them too negative and depressing. I know what they mean and at times I’ve been tempted to disengage from all sites. However, I’m conscious that some people are very worried about their condition, particularly during the diagnostic phase or pre-treatment, so I guess there are perceptions at play. As a 5 year survivor, I’ve since learned to filter out or at least try to understand someone’s concerns and I always attempt to inject some positivity and hope into any thread. That said, I’m now more of a ‘forum lurker’ and as some of them can be ‘minefields’, I’ve really cut down my presence.
In my blogs, I’m conscious that my own personal experience is not universal and I would never dream of suggesting that my opinions be substituted for someone else’s. However, I hope that for some people, they can relate to what I have said and take comfort from the fact that there can be light at the end of the tunnel even if it currently looks some distance away!
Finally, I am a strong believer that having a positive attitude is potentially life extending for a cancer patient. Therefore …… my glass is half full.
Thanks for reading
Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer!
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