A common default emotion for both patients and their loved ones is to stay positive throughout cancer treatment. It’s a comforting survival tactic to get through one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Though there’s no scientific evidence to support that a good attitude can help a patient fight the disease, keeping a healthy emotional well-being couldn’t hurt. It’s definitely better than letting negative feelings result in depression, which can make recovery from cancer much harder, reports a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE in May.
But of course, being upbeat when you’re consumed with fear and uncertainty is easier said than done. Meditation can help disempower some of these scary, unproductive thoughts as you fight for your life. Seeing a destructive thinking process for what is—a stream of thoughts, not facts—can stop them from weighing you down or holding you back. Hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy are two other mental techniques that work in a similar way—though they’re less about taming intrusive thoughts and more about restructuring them. All three strategies are particularly helpful for cancer patients who may need to reframe their outlook before going into chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
“Not only are these strategies helping them deal with a very big problem in the moment, but also once they’ve learned them, they can [use these techniques] on their own in the future,” says Guy Montgomery, director of Psychological Services at Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center in New York City. In this video interview with Sonima.com founder, Sonia Jones, Montgomery further explains how each mental plan of action works, especially in the face of cancer.
By Sonia Jones