Thursday, September 23, 2010

Attitude

This is an interesting article Marco and Marie showed me while we were at the hospital for Marco's chemo. Thought I'd post for everyone else to read too.

Attitude

By Bill Matteson, 2003 bone marrow transplant survivor
(From City of Hope’s “High Hopes” newsletter by patients for patients)

There is no substitute for good health-care providers who systematically monitor patients and their conditions and prescribe appropriate treatment and medication. However, as patients, we cannot blindly follow that path believing that “everything is being done.”

Everything is not being done as long as we totally rely on others to minister to our needs. As I’ve mentioned in prior articles, we need to be involved in our care, monitoring our own bodies and participating in the healing process, not just relying on others to do the right thing.

I believe one of the highly-effective actions that we, as patients, can do is to have a strong, irrepressible, and continuous positive attitude. This is not always easy, particularly when we receive less than positive news. However, sulking and moping after receiving such news is definitely not productive. Taking this thought further, I believe anger, anxiety, frustration, depression and despair are counterproductive, and actually feed and nourish the problem.

Along these lines, there is a saying something to the effect that anticipating the best will almost certainly promote the best, and anticipating the worst will promote the worst. These are basically self-fulfilling prophecies, predictions that directly or indirectly cause themselves to become true.

Considering that what is going to happen will happen (it is what it is), it doesn’t do us much good to worry about it, to have negative self-fulfilling prophesy thoughts. Alternatively, I believe we will be much better off if we turn our energy into positive thinking – think good thoughts and help them to become true. This is what I always try to do.

For the most part, as I’ve gone through my journey of a bone marrow transplant, several back surgeries, more surgeries for melanoma on the left side of my face, radiation treatments to kill any renegade melanoma cells so they wouldn’t spread, and ongoing treatments for melanoma that spread to my lungs and liver anyway, I’ve always approached these challenges as ones that I can handle and beat. As soon as I can’t handle and beat them, I suspect I won’t have any attitude, let alone a positive one, so what good does it do to worry?

If the truth be known, I’ve pretty much ignored these challenges as nothing more than “bumps in the road” and gone on with life being status quo as much as possible. I listen to my doctors, follow their suggested regimen, assume the results will be positive and continue on. I do not dwell on any negative aspects of my situation and the resulting treatment. As I said, I believe that is counterproductive.

Conversely, I try to make positive opportunities out of the various negative aspects of my health problems. Now you might be saying, “How do you come up with something positive about having melanoma that has spread to your lungs and liver?” Well, I’ve come up with several things. For one, all my friends visit and/or call more often. It’s nice to hear from them and feel their concern and know they care. I also see it as another experience to write about in my columns and these might eventually help others (someone or something is sending me through all these “opportunities to excel” for a reason).

I do a few other things periodically to reinforce a positive attitude. One is to reflect on what a good life I’ve already had: a wonderful family life (both in my youth and as I matured and had my own family), enjoyable educational opportunities, a career that took me all over the world, fun vacations, and miscellaneous other successes. I’ve done most things I wanted to do and certainly have no regrets. More than likely, you all have similar things to be thankful for.

I also take time to realize that no one gets out of this life alive; Einstein died (he was smart), Rockefeller died (he was rich), Elvis died (he was famous), and billions of others before me have died. It’s nothing new; the only question is when, and worrying about it won’t make it disappear. Maybe ignoring it won’t make it disappear either, but if my doctors, especially City of Hope doctors, are using their education and experience to do the best that can be done, there’s not much I can add except a positive attitude. My excellent doctors and my positive attitude have gotten me seven years down the road after my transplant, and actually well over a year down the road after my initial diagnosis of melanoma in late 2008.

With my melanoma, I’ve heard a few doctors mention I’d have as little as two months to live, and I’ve listened to that now for the last year or so. My job is to figure out how to extend this, two years or even more. I don’t need no stinking melanoma; I have too many articles to write, not to mention fishing, camping, traveling, and playing golf to get back to. I use my “Bucket List” to keep me going! You could do the same; having a “to do” list of things you still want to experience gives you purpose and goals, and having goals to accomplish is positive, leaving no time to give in to adversity. Live, love, laugh and be happy; and straight ahead for a long and healthy life.

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