Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dark Side

I am a fan of the Stars Wars movies. In that movie series, the dark side represents evil.

I think every cancer patient has a dark side too but the dark side here represents the negative thoughts that engulfs a patient every now and then. In my case, you have seen me blog about it many times. All these arises out of fear. These fears include:

- The Fear Of Suffering (or of Nothingness)
- The Fear of Being Alone
- The Fear of Being a Burden
- The Fear of Abandoning Your Children and
- The Fear of Unfinished Stories

I will write about the above fears in a separate post based on what I read and also my own experiences. I am lucky because through counseling, I have identified them and also learn how to manage them. It's still work in progress for me though.

Many friends and family members often reminds me to be positive and not to think or talk about the illness or to have death thoughts. I take a different view and have no problems talking or even reflecting upon it.

Dr. David Spiegel, who has been supporting seriously ill patients for the past 30 years, believes firmly the importance of humor and optimism to stimulate the body's natural defense system. But he often reminds his patients not to let themselves be locked in what he calls "the prison of positive thinking". There is every reason to believe that the solitude the seriously ill impose upon themselves when they don't talk about their fear of dying contributions to making their conditions worst.

Further, some cancer patients are also fearful of socializing. They are embarrassed with their cancer and prefer to live in isolation. In fact, studies have shown that the connection between social isolation and the risk of death is great. Anything that prevents us from having a genuine connection to others is in itself a step towards death.

The realist credo: What's most important is to always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.


  1. Dear CT,

    People often have catastrophic thoughts - feeling that everything is wrong and that nothing is going to change, not only cancer patients. Talking about your fears not only helps in the acceptance process, it may help you gain control of these catastrophic thoughts.

  2. I think friends and family who tell you to "think positively" and discourage you from speaking of your illness or your feelings are probably deep in denial. Your feelings make them feel uncomfortable.

    I hope for the best, and prepare for the worst, but also be prepared for the best. I think sometimes we are afraid to let ourselves get too optimistic. We are afraid that we'll get our hopes up only to have them shattered and somehow we might think that would be worse. Don't be afraid to hope. Don't be afraid to trust.

  3. Dear CT,

    What Emily said is so true. People are often uncomfortable listening to the "negative "emotions". It could be that they do not know how to deal with it themselves.
    In life, we need both light and dark. Without darkness, how do we know what light is? Without sadness, how do we know what joy is? Much like the yin and yang. The challenge is keeping a balance and staying on course in your journey.
    Never be afraid to share and embrace both light and dark. They serve a purpose in making us whole beings.