How you react to a cancer diagnosis can effect a positive outcome by 75%
Did you know that how you respond psychologically to those three dreaded words “You have cancer” can truly influence your prognosis in a big hairy audacious way?
Let me explain.
I recently read a landmark study titled “Psychological Response to Breast Cancer: Effect on Outcome” by Steve Greer that was published in the British Journal Lancet on October 13, 1979. This study showed there was a statistically significant association between patients’ initial psychological responses to the diagnosis of cancer and outcome 5 years later. The psychological response effected outcome in a big way; a 75% survival rate after five years.
Researchers found four distinctive psychological responses among the women they interviewed, and Greer classified breast cancer patients ac-cording to those four possible responses:
- Complete denial of their disease even after having a mastectomy. These women said, “there’s just nothing wrong with me”. Such patients were usually extremely guarded in their replies and restricted discussion of the subject. They neither showed nor reported any emotional distress.
- A fighting spirit and personal commitment to conquer their disease. “I will beat this” mentality. This group had a highly optimistic attitude, accompanied by a search for greater information from friends and other resources. No distress was reported or evident.
- Stoic acceptance of the diagnosis without making any further efforts. “Well, whatever will be, will be” attitude. These patients ignored the illness and any symptoms, and carried on normal life. They showed distress at first, but their stoic attitude alleviated their distress during the three months following their operation.
- The helpless hopeless type who had an attitude of totally given up. “I’m going to die and nothing can change that”. These patients regarded themselves as gravely ill and sometimes as actually dying. They were devoid of hope and showed obvious emotional distress.
Five years later researchers found a dramatic difference in survival rate of these four groups. The kind of psychological response adopted by the patients affected their outcome significantly. There was a 75% more favorable outcome in patients whose response was categorized as denial or fighting spirit.
Survival after 5 years
The good news is, your response to a cancer diagnosis falls within your circle of influence. You’ve got the power. Take it. Control it. Own it. You’ve got this.