Toxic Positivity Have You Been Effected?

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I got a whatapp today from my wife’s cousin saying “I hope you are now better”. It stuck me as odd, as I have just really started treatment. Has anyone else had such comments like this or “I know you will smash it” etc. And how do you deal with it I wonder?

  • Hi Leo,Yes I have.I’ve been friends with my ex partner for over 40 yrs but his comments were infuriating.He kept telling me I would be fine.When he saw me pre op he was shocked at how thin and Ill I looked and has kept fairly quiet since.It’s fine to be optimistic but you have to realistic as well.As my urologist said I’m extremely lucky to still be here and I’m very grateful.Jane xx

  • Jane exactly. It’s takes some tact and diplomacy to respond in such a way that does not antagonise. It’s hard sometimes.  One of my wife’s relatives asked me on Monday if it was my fault that I had bladder cancer. I felt like giving him a Glasgow kiss. Leo (obviously I did not, but I still feel chuffed off about it).

  • That’s awful.I would have been annoyed too.My next door neighbour told me I looked ghastly.I did,but I didn’t need to hear it.

  • Your neighbour is not a person of great sensitivity

  • Hi Leo1, I’m afraid that I get quite angry when people say insensitive things like “The cancer is gone now is it” “You’re better now” and They’ve cured the cancer”.

    i know I tend to be overprotective of my husband who has bladder cancer but as we all know the cancer diagnosis will always be there, the hospital has told him he will have to have checks for 3months then 6 months and then yearly for life so I really don’t think they are sure  they have “cured him”

    I was talking to a family member who has breast cancer and she said exactly the same thing about  people’s comments.

    Thinking sympathetically they only mean the best, perhaps in this case I am not a sympathetic person. Jean.

  • I'm the other half to the bc 'patient' [he's very patient about it] and we are both autistic, if "high functioning". But my take on remarks like those unsettling and unwelcome ones is, the person saying them is terrified of cancer even in someone else, and hopes it won't be near them any longer. They just want an excuse to not even think about it, which is why they want it gone from even the person who actually has it. They are also selectively deaf/blind to all the info around that explains eg the need for lifelong checks.

    If I get cancer someday, and get this nonsense, I think I will say, more donations from the public are needed to find lasting cures, giving them a direct ['ie YOU''] gaze while saying this!

  • Hi Leo, I am not sure even now how to deal with stuff people say. I had cancer and surgery 22 years ago , and some of my family members said some deeply insensitive things that really hurt. I am now thinking that maybe that could be part of the reason I havent told them yet. 
    Toxic positivity is actually something that really irritates me . I think it is sometimes done to close down the conversation. Sad really, people can be very strange.

    much love to you Angela x

    Much love Angela x

  • Hi Angela

    The Community Team produced 2 blogs on toxic positivity which make really interesting reading. You can read them via the links below:

    Many of us have experienced it in some form or another-I simply don’t tolerate it now but I have done in the past. I didn’t tell people other than a couple of friends that I had cancer until I rang the bell after my first line of treatment finished. When I had my pelvic exenteration surgery after my recurrence I only told my children and closest friend and no-one else.

    I never even told my in laws and still haven’t, although now that my father in law has been through bladder cancer and had his bladder removed, I have admitted I have a urostomy-I thought I might be able to help, but apparently not so I needn’t have bothered! 

    I feel I’m not here to defend myself from criticism of having cancer-which I have had due to it being cervical cancer and therefore related to hpv and sex. I am not here to justify anything, or deal with the reactions of others-not my circus, not my monkeys. I keep myself to myself and private, except on this community where I can be anonymous! 

    Sarah xx


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  • Hi Sarah,

    Honestly, reading your cancer experience and everything you have been through leaves me blown away with admiration for your strength. I too am so thankful for this anonymous forum. I feel its a place of safety, where we can hold each other steady and express all fears as well as joys. I dont ever feel criticised or judged on here ( unlike with friends and family who can say very stupid things) and am grateful that i have virtually met people like you, willing to share and inspire others.

    Take care of yourself and much love to you.

    Angela xx

    Much love Angela x

  • Hi Angela

    Being able to chat freely on the forum is liberating when it can be difficult to chat to people in life in general who haven’t been through the same things. We understand how awful it is to get a cancer diagnosis, how scary it is, and how tough it can be going through treatments. And how difficult it is for carers and those who love us. 

    Some people are uncomfortable around illness, especially cancer, as it can be a reminder of their own mortality, so sometimes they say things they don’t mean in an attempt to steer away from it. I understand that. It’s easier to shut the conversation down, or say something hasty without appreciating the effects their words might have on the listener. In the community here we are not judged and we have mutual respect and understanding which is lovely!

    I’m just back from the gp for another blood test. Since having my stroke 3 weeks ago everyone wants to stick needles in me or test something or other-today it was liver function and vitamin d as I had huge liver enzyme issues last year when my bile duct blocked and my numbers were very high. 

    I got home and found an appointment letter to go to the hospital and be fitted with an ECG monitor for 3 days-it never ends! Now I’m going to need to spend 3 days without a shower as the device can’t get wet! But I do my best just to get on with things and do what I’m told. I have a lovely weekend in Scotland to look forward to next week so that will keep my spirits up. 

    Hope all is well with you Angela, it’s always lovely to chat. 

    Sarah xx


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