Pathologically optimistic and unrelentingly positive

I was prepared to write yesterday, but faced with Haiti’s natural disaster, I found I couldn’t.  I am back at it today, with a somewhat curious title.  It is, in essence, my battle call; after the initial shock of bad news, I find it necessary to rally with a message of hope.

Last week I received phone calls from both my very caring head trial nurse and my oncologist.  They were checking in and following up with reassurance following my slightly concerning report from the most recent CT scan.  I assured them both that after a few days of anxiety, I was back on track with a can do attitude.  By definition I have a terminal illness, but it is counterbalanced by determined optimism.

It is virtually impossible for me to remain depressed for long.  I would imagine this is so for a combination of reasons.  To begin with, I am so in love with this world and view each new day as an adventure.  I much prefer happiness to sadness, and make my choices accordingly. Depression requires focus on one’s troubles, and I am quickly bored and easily distracted.  I have a home, adequate food, love and friendship.  And let’s not forget the prozac…

When it comes to attitude, I actually feel a bit of a kinship with our golden retriever Buddy.  Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, but Buddy came from a lineage with no appearance of the disorder.  That is, until Buddy.  He was only eight months old when an x-ray confirmed not just severe hip dysplasia on both sides, but two bad elbows as well.  Poor Buddy.  The breeder offered to ‘trade’ him for another dog, but that was unthinkable.  We considered surgery, but ultimately decided there was just too much to fix, as well as the fact that each surgery would involve long periods of confinement and discomfort.

Buddy is not yet three years old, but there are days when his movements are more like those of an old dog.  Undoubtedly, it will get much worse.  None of this has had any effect on Buddy’s joie de vivre.  He is happy, happy, happy and always up for anything.   Food!  Squirrel!  Walk!  Play!  Pet!   More wag, less bark, this one.

I’ve known some worried dogs, but not many.  And usually, even in the most miserable of situations, you can turn their mood around.  I believe they respond to life much as I do:  each day is an adventure, happy is good, all distractions are eagerly welcomed, as is food, shelter and love.  No prozac necessary.

15 responses to “Pathologically optimistic and unrelentingly positive

  1. I think its such s strenght to keep that atiitude it well help you on your way!

    I wish you lots of happiness !!

    Love caroline

  2. I’ve been reading the book, ‘Anti-Cancer, A Way of Life’. Even though my mom was clear on her last scan, my father’s scan wasn’t, and I’m always reading, trying to learn more with two parents going through this experience. The author, physician-scientist and two-time brain cancer survivor David Servan-Schreiber is a psychiatrist, and specifically talks about feeling ‘hopeless’ and it’s impact on our bodies. He addresses an important point- the worry that some oncologists have “not to give false hope.” He turns this idea around, and points out that “…this comes down to restricting ourselves to a conception of medicine that withholds the power every one of us has to take charge of ourselves. As if we couldn’t do anything to protect ourselves actively against cancer- before and after the disease. Encouraging this passivity creates a culture of hopelessness.”

    I really believe that a positive attitude is crucial in all things in life, but so much so in fighting this disease. Keep up the can-do attitude!

    • Suzy, geez, I didn’t know you were dealing with this disease with your father as well–that’s really rough. I have the Servan-Schreiber book too and it’s really got a lot to offer. One of my coming up posts is going to be about not taking away anyone’s hope–I have some very strong feelings about that subject. Please keep sharing your viewpoints, you’ve got a unique perspective and a lot to offer. Linnea

  3. You are so right, why not appreciate each day as it comes to us?
    So many people have so much but cannot see it.
    You are lucky,

  4. Linnea from the Midwest

    Linnea. You have an awesome attitude, and so does Buddy! Love Linnea

  5. Not lung cancer Linnea… advanced prostate cancer for my dad. But I believe the attitude that you speak of in this posting applies to any and all cancer fights as well as many challenges we all face in life. I really believe at some point my mom said to herself, “I just can’t go right now. I’m not ready.”… and I think it helped both us and her. Now if I could only master those thoughts to that degree! 😉 It’s a work in progress.

    • Yeah–when I speak of this disease, if I’ve not specified lung cancer I am generally referring to cancer in general. Certainly when you get to the advanced stages, they are each more similar than different.
      I’m with your Mom on attitude (but it took me a while to get there as well)–I just kind of decided I wasn’t going to die (yet). I figured that the least it would do is buy me more time, and that is really the goal anyway, right?

  6. What a lovely dog and beautiful snow.
    I see why golden retrievers are the most popular breed. Retrievers are prone to hip problems and cancer like me. My old cockapoo use to curiously smell my mouth and look at me with a serious expression long before I was diagnosed with NSCLC. I bet he knew. How anybody can exchange an 8 moth old sick baby? they are part of our families and make us happier.

    Most of the snow is gone in Toronto , my 5 year old poodle returns from a walk covered in mud.
    Our lovely dog and beautiful green gardens.

  7. Hi Linnea — Wonderful blog; thanks for providing an uplifting place among the many depressing ones out there on the web. I (38 never-smoker, also in NH) just got thru chemo/radiation to find out my IIIb is now IV, so I wasn’t feeling particularly upbeat, but feeling a bit better after finding ‘life and breath.’ I’m headed into Dana-Farber in a couple days to discuss trials. I hope to follow your example 🙂

    • Good luck with your visit to Dana Farber and please let me know if I can ever be of help. It took me a long time after my diagnosis to find others in my situation, but now, unfortunately, there seem to be so many of us. The unfortunate part aside, it really is empowering to find people who understand the particulars of this strange journey we are on. Take good care and thanks for reaching out. Linnea

  8. Just watched on TV Film that Challenges Viewers to Make the Most of Life

    Taking Heparing for blood clots I am not allowed to take NSAIDS anti inflammatories but found out that I can using dog treatments!
    How is hip dysplasia treated medically? Tips for Buddy

  9. Guillermo, Buddy takes chondroiton (human chondroiton–it’s cheaper!) for his hips; any other fix would require extensive surgery, and when all four limbs are bad, that’s a problem. Luckily, he is happy no matter what (he’s figured out what life is all about). Don’t you have a scan soon–or already?Best of luck with that. Linnea

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