No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, ‘attitude is everything.’ Here at Cancer Recovery Foundation International (CRFI), we believe it is an integral part of healing from cancer.
CRFI’s research has shown survivors believe in a true mind/body connection; they believe their role in their recovery process is of primary importance. Eight out of 10 survivors believe their personal self-help efforts were responsible for most of their successful recovery from cancer. In addition, seven out of 10 survivors also believe emotional and psychological factors are significant contributors to their illness, and eight out of 10 survivors believe those same factors play a major role in the functioning of their immune system.
CRFI’s CEO and cancer survivor Greg Anderson says personal beliefs, positive attitudes, and hopeful expectations definitely make a significant contribution to cancer recovery. In his book, Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do, he says a great deal of credible scientific evidence is showing that a positive, affirming attitude can – and does – make a difference in your healing and recovery.
Among some of the steps he recommends:
- “Reframe” your cancer – changing how you view cancer, from a threat to a challenge. This reframing can positively impact our response to cancer – it can spur lifestyle changes (nutrition, exercise) for one, and can also adjust how you look at cancer. Cancer is something you *have,* not something that *has you.* See the difference? Through reframing cancer, you respond differently and more proactively.
- Evaluate your self-talk – self-talk is a powerful tool. Each one of us can choose how we think: we can either think about the same-fear filled thoughts over and over, or we can change those thoughts – right here and now – to something positive and affirming. It’s up to each one of us. These thoughts truly set the tone for our future, and also our healing.
- Choose a daily affirmation – in tandem with evaluating your self-talk, daily affirmations are powerful tools that can replace the negative mental chatter that may be affecting you. These positive statements of intent and belief can create a new, positive reality, especially when spoken in the present tense (ex: “I am grateful for life today,” “I am strong,” “I am in charge of my cancer”)
- Manage your toxic stress – we define toxic stress as emotional overload. It can add to the physical and mental anguish that cancer brings. Managing this toxic stress as it relates to your attitude can go a long way in your healing. One suggestion offered in Greg Anderson’s book is called the “relaxation response,” an effective, self-healing meditation technique, created by cardiologist Herbert Benson from Harvard Medical School. More information on this technique is available by contacting CRFI for additional details.
- Visualize wellness – a helpful method that is related to the relaxation process is visualization, sometimes referred to as mental imagery. Visualization works by creating mental pictures in your mind of your immune system fighting the cancer cells, and then visualizing the cancer disappearing and your body returning to health. We recommend thinking of the cancer as a weak and confused disease, and not giving it any power. Using visualization following the relaxation response exercise can be helpful in reducing stress, fear and anxiety.
While this article is an overview of steps you can take regarding the mind/body connection as it relates to healing with the mind, there are a variety of resources available. Feel free to reach out to CRFI by utilizing the contact us page on our website.