Tedeschi, who has interviewed hundreds of trauma survivors, reports 5 common growth outcomes:
- A deepened appreciation of life.
- Enhanced relationships with others.
- An appreciation for personal strength and endurance.
- Setting out on new pathways or pursuing new interests and opportunities.
- Spiritual growth and development.
"It's always better if your suffering has some meaning to it," Tedeschi says. "So if you perceive that it's teaching you something or changing you in some positive way, there is a reason to keep going." Though not everyone will find a silver lining in their cancer experience. For some, it will be the most agonizing experience of their lives and not easily traversed. But Tedeschi says that patients can increase their chances of finding something positive by avoiding fearful thinking. Patricia Mumby, RN, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola University Chicago and director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, agrees that cancer can be life-altering. “I think many of us often take life for granted, and a diagnosis, such as cancer, can really make people look at their life and ask, ‘Am I living my life in a way that is most fulfilling to me?’ ” she explains. “They wonder, ‘Are there things I can change or improve?’ ”Cancer patients should never think of the disease’s potential silver lining as an all-or-nothing phenomenon, says Loyola’s Mumby. “People can be feeling the stress of the cancer at the same time that they are able to find something positive,” she says. “It’s often a matter of degree. But I think if people are able, at any point in the experience, to identify even a single positive, that, in and of itself, can be very empowering.”
Maybe I'm just not there yet. I hear other survivors discussing the upcoming breast cancer walks (Avon and Komen 3-day) and how they are planning and training for them but I have yet to find the motivation to do more than think about it! Feeling so horrible really knocked me for a loop. I just want to be normal again.