I am continuously reminded to have a positive attitude during my cancer treatment, but some days I just don’t feel like it. Is that normal?

A cancer diagnosis can bring about many different feelings, including fear, sadness, stress, anxiety and loneliness.

While the common belief that positive thoughts can lead to a better outcome and chance of survival exists, there is no scientific proof for this belief. It is possible that a positive outlook will encourage a better quality of life. You might feel more inclined to stay active and involved with your family, friends and other activities. You might feel more energized and have more strength to face your cancer battle.

Even if you do try to have a positive outlook most of the time, negative feelings are completely normal when facing cancer and undergoing treatment. If the instances of sadness seem to take over your life, it is important to talk to your doctor as you may have clinical depression.

These are early signs of depression:

A feeling that you are helpless and hopeless

No interest in being with your friends and/or family

No interest in the hobbies and activities you used to enjoy

A loss of appetite, or no interest in food

Crying for long periods of time, or many times each day

Sleep problems, either sleeping too much or too little

Changes in your energy level

Thoughts of suicide

If, however, you simply have times where you feel sad, those times are OK and are to be expected. Don’t pretend to be cheerful when you are not. Ignoring your feelings can keep you from getting the help you need.

Seek out a good listener with whom to share your feelings. If friends and family do not seem to want to listen, or constantly tell you to think positive thoughts, it could be because they are in denial about their own fears and concerns. You might want to try talking with other cancer survivors instead.

Cancer Services provides many support groups and peer-to-peer matching. Cancer Services can also provide assistance with obtaining professional counseling. You may benefit from speaking with someone who is not as emotionally involved with your cancer diagnoses as friends and family.

For more information, contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Treatment Myths: Any truth to these common beliefs? — mayoclinic.com/health/cancer/HO00033

NCI’s Taking Time: Support for People with Cancer — cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime/

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.