Your Circle of Influence: Emotions

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Coping Skill

Survival after 5 years

Total denial


Fighting spirit


Stoic acceptance





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.


Source: Greer S, Morris T, Pettingale KW. Psychological response to breast can-cer: effect on outcome. Lancet. 1979 Oct 13;2(8146):785-7. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(79)92127-5. PMID: 90871.


Improve Your Health With Personalized Nutrition Counseling – I’ll show you how!

Get Your FREE e-Book!

The Ultimate Guide to DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning

Clicking the button gives us consent to send you our weekly newsletter and we will rush to your email account  your free e-book. Your data is protected as outlined in our privacy policy.

Improve Your Health With Personalized Nutrition Counseling - I'll Show You How!
Picture of Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta is a certified functional nutrition practitioner, holistic cancer coach and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients - if you eat better, you will feel better.