How Cancer Patients Can Have Gratitude and Positivity

Posted 4 years ago

Have Gratitude and Positivity 

 to Cancer is an illness that affects so many individuals across the world. This diagnosis can ignite an array of emotions including fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, and hopelessness. However, having cancer does not mean gratitude, positivity, hope, and love are emotions that can no longer exist. In fact, research indicates that mindfulness, managing stress, and practicing positive thinking can reduce stress levels, build resilience, and increase positive outcomes for cancer patients. 


Here are a few things to consider when working on your ability to maintain a positive attitude during your cancer journey:

Your Feelings

You do not have to feel positive all of the time but allow yourself to feel and express the emotions that you are having. Venting anger and frustration is just as healthy as being positive. 


More individuals are surviving this disease than ever before because of advances in medical practice, treatment, and disease management.

Have Fun

Do what you enjoy, whether that is something old that you liked in the past or something new that you have never done before. Do it just for you. 

Be Joyful

Allow yourself moments of joy and opportunities for laughter. Just because you have cancer does not mean you do not deserve happiness.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

Surround yourself with positive energy and people in your life. 

Eliminate Toxic People

Eliminate toxic people and minimize the negativity in your life. This applies to the movies you watch, the music you listen to, and the books you read. Toxic people may be harder to eliminate if they are family members. This is when communication and setting personal boundaries are crucial.

We Are Here For You

Support and guidance may come easier from someone who has walked in your shoes and been on a cancer journey of their own. Support groups, such as the ones offered at Ironwood, can be a great place to find someone who has shared experiences, understands the direct side effects of treatments, has faced emotional challenges similar to the ones you are having and can honestly say to you, “I know how this feels.” 


We reached out to some participants in our Breast Cancer Support group to see what advice they have for you on practicing gratitude and staying positive during cancer. This group meets the second Saturday of every month from 10 am-12 pm.

Here is what they had to say: 

As we suffer through the changes brought on due to COVID-19, I smile when I hear people say, “I can’t wait until we return to normal. Remember normal is only a setting on our washing machines. I was so impatient about my own cancer treatments. I wanted to be done as soon as I started. I wanted to return to what I believed was my normal. I got more upset with every setback or extension. Slowly, I learned that my frustration stemmed from my inability to control what was happening to me. As I learned to surrender control and trust in my treatment decisions, the process was a bit easier. Maybe we learn to surf the wave rather than be knocked down by each new wave.” 


“I keep a gratitude jar. When something gives me a lift — such as a phone call from a friend, I jot it on a slip of paper and drop it in the jar. I will write anything that occurs to me, such as my sister’s sense of humor, my ability to read a good book, and my ability to hear a beautiful song. When I am anxious or feeling low, I draw out a slip of paper at random. It provides a memory of happiness and a reminder that good days do exist.” 

~ Luci

“How do you tell someone to stay positive when one of the biggest challenges in life is ahead of you? When you hear those words…. YOU HAVE CANCER, your mind just starts to run wild. Let it! Let every emotion come out and acknowledge each one. What helped me the most was the helplessness on the face of my sweet girls and husband. Seeing that put me in the fight mode. Encouraging me to fight and dig down as deep as I could to find strength. Believe me, every step was extremely difficult, and to this day a constant reminder of my illness. 

 The 5 years since my diagnosis have given me the strength to be an inspiration to others and to give unconditionally. I do not know what the future holds for me but I will embrace each day, stay in the moment, and try not to look too far ahead. Now is where you need to focus. Take this time to learn more about yourself. Every day that you look into your mirror, tell yourself: I can do this! One day, that familiar face will look back at you.” 

~ Robin

 “When you are in the thick of it, it’s hard to imagine anything good coming out of the cancer experience, but when you actually devote the time and energy to shift from negative to positive thoughts, it works wonders and you can realize how much you grow from it all. Every setback in life can be a blessing in disguise. My favorite saying is the one about the glass that is half-full. If you think of your life as a glass that is only half-full, perhaps you just need a smaller glass.” 

~ Bonnie

Ironwood Integrative Services is providing a variety of online support groups in the month of May to help learn gratitude and positivity.  In-person activities are not safe at this time. See our Integrative Services calendar for what is happening near you. 

Nicole is available to speak with you can have gratitude and postitvity in your life today.  She is accepting social work appointments by phone. Feel free to call 480-314-6660 to schedule your appointment.

About Nicole McCallister, LMSW

Nicole McCallister

Nicole McCallister

Nicole McCallister is a Licensed Master Social Worker.  Nicole received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State University in August 2017.  She received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Studies in April 2003 from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI.

Nicole has spent the last 15 years working with children and families in the child welfare system of Arizona.  She completed a social work internship with Ironwood under the supervision of Kelly Huey from August 2016 through May 2017.

About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit