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Staying positive with a cancer diagnosis

Ask the Experts

Q: I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer. I want to talk about the possibility of dying, but my family and friends want me to “stay positive.” How do I deal with this?

A: Exploring our beliefs about death and dying has substantial benefits for all of us. Speaking about our feelings and concerns about dying, rather than suppressing or avoiding them, can free up the mind and body, allowing more space for healing.

Spiritual connection, in whatever way that has meaning for us, can play an important role in the healing process and also in discovering our feelings about dying. By reclaiming this connection, whether through a religious framework or our own personal sense of spirituality, we may live life more fully and become actively engaged in our healing.

This open and honest exploration of our feelings around life-threatening illness can help us to process and release our fears. Expressing these thoughts and feelings creates an opportunity for continued or greater intimacy with our loved ones. At such times, relationships can deepen in profound ways. When we live fully in each moment, life’s richness may be experienced as never before.

There are practical reasons for talking openly about dying. Being financially and legally prepared and making wishes known regarding medical and personal issues allows for a sense of preparedness. This, in turn, can support a return of our focus and energy to living.

Let your friends and family know that talking about these important subjects is not about giving up. It is about being open, honest, and authentic, all of which help to free us up to more fully engage in life, regardless of any physical limitations.

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