We’ve all heard it: “Think positively.” But that kind of rosy advice can ring hollow when cancer patients are dealing with their most difficult days.
Olympic figure skating gold medalist—and breast cancer survivor going on 13 years—Peggy Fleming says that while challenging days are inevitable, you’ve got to power through.
“I know it’s really hard not to feel sorry for yourself,” Fleming tells YouBeauty. “But if you allow yourself to wallow in that, it’s a dark hole that can be hard to climb out of. If you push yourself to keep moving, to get outside and continue living, you’ll feel much better than if you just stay at home in your pajamas,” adds Fleming.
Below, some helpful coping strategies that experts say are scientifically proven to help you face those tough days head-on, and actually make you feel better.
Have a Sense of Humor
It may seem incredulous: you’ve got a cancer diagnosis, and we’re telling you to laugh about it? But humor is a phenomenon that has a measurable impact on the brain, according to Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Bouskill, who has studied its effects on breast cancer patients.
Humor among cancer patients ranks often creates instant camaraderie, which is an especially effective coping mechanism. When patients laugh together, there's evidence that regions of the brain associated with reward behavior and a positive outlook on life are stimulated. “Humor creates a mental distance from stress,” explains Bouskill.
Professional makeup artist and breast cancer survivor Leslie Moore knows this firsthand. “Three of us about the same age in treatment called ourselves the ‘Chemo Cowgirls,’” says Moore of the group’s tradition of wearing cowboy boots to chemotherapy sessions. “We held each other up, and became each other’s cheerleaders. We’re the greatest of friends today.”
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