There’s little I love more than celebrities telling everyone else how to do breast cancer.
Enter Joan Lunden, everyone’s favorite perky blonde.
And here’s the funny part. When I read this interview with her in Prevention, I agreed with much of what she says. She comes across as honest and vulnerable, speaking the same truth as mine about the difficulty of the post-treatment days.
But, then, this.
I’ve been taken to task on social media for talking about how important it is to have a positive attitude. And it’s usually people who have metastatic breast cancer, and they know they’re going to die, and you know, “Positive attitude isn’t going to cure us.”
But a positive attitude will certainly make the time you’re here on Earth more palatable and will certainly keep the fight in you to keep fighting to live until maybe we even find a better treatment for you. It will keep that fight stronger. There have been studies that show that patients who have a positive attitude and are optimistic have a better immune system, and they heal better, they recover better.
And there’s the OH, JOAN moment. Again, I might agree that being a glass half full gal might add quality to however many years I have left, here’s the thing: you have no business telling other people how to live with cancer.
Because you know what?
When those mets patients tell you a positive attitude won’t cure them, THEY’RE RIGHT.
Metastatic breast cancer (aka Stage IV) is responsible for virtually all breast cancer deaths and current statistics show that it carries a 22% five-year survival rate.
Them’s the facts, Joan.
Yep, they’re scary and depressing and real, so really, who do you think you are to tell people looking down the barrel of that particular gun how they should feel about it?
If you follow the links in the original article about positive attitude and health outcomes, you’ll see that nothing in them is related to overcoming the grim odds of surviving metastatic breast cancer.
In what other disease do we demand that people stay sunny side up in the face of such a poor prognosis? And why? Just so the rest of us can be more comfortable?
As far as I know, I don’t have metastatic breast cancer. Neither do you, Joan. So let’s not pretend we know what’s best for them.
Here’s a crazy idea.
How about we listen to them and what they’re asking for, and help them in ways they actually want to be helped?
While we’re at it, Joan, let’s be careful not to overplay this hand either:
Prevention is the one thing within our power, within our reach. And yet it’s easier to just say, “Well, you know, it’s destiny.” It’s not destiny. We predetermine our longevity by the life choices and the health choices we make today.
Predetermine our longevity? Um, no.
Influence, perhaps, to some degree? Yes. Well, maybe. Although we don’t know much. For sure, there are genetic mutations that can’t be overcome, even with a mountain of kale.
At the end of the interview, Joan, you speak of mindfulness and how you use it in your daily life. When faced with a difficult situation, you say you step back and ask yourself, “Wait a second. Do you really want to go there?”
You should have followed your own advice here, Joan.