Cancer and Mindset are Independent: Control What You Can

Cancer and Mindset Have you considered the relationship between your cancer and mindset? Understanding their interconnection is an important part of your cancer journey. Additionally, understanding what lies within your control is essential.

Cancer takes over a healthy cell’s capacity to regulate itself.  It literally takes on a life of its own within our bodies. Additionally, it is (quite literally) chaotic and uncontrolled. However, cancer is more than a physical disease.  A cancer diagnosis elicits a psychological impact that presents challenges beginning at diagnosis, compounding throughout treatment, and often remaining through recovery and survivorship. 

 Cancer changes us – those of us directly affected, as well as our loved ones.  

Therefore, this is not an article on the “power of positive thinking” and its effect on physical health and healing. (However, research reveals the influence psychological well-being has on the physiological health of someone with cancer.) Instead, this article outlines how someone facing a cancer diagnosis can take control of an out-of-control situation. All you must do is choose to believe what is possible or likely in your mindset. 

Cancer and Mindset Generally Fall into One of Two Categories: Catastrophe or Opportunity

How do your cancer and mindset correlate? The challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis (which are real) frequently cause a spiral of negative thinking. As a result, this leads to depression and anxiety. And of course, this is twice as common for people with cancer than the general population. 

However, not everyone with a cancer diagnosis responds with catastrophic thinking.  In fact, data reveals that two people with the same diagnosis, type, and stage of cancer, can have opposite psychological responses.   I have seen this within my own practice. 

One person’s psychological response results from a mindset that cancer is catastrophic and their thoughts are consumed with worry and anxiety causing them to retreat from activities they enjoyed prior to their cancer diagnosis leading to depression. The other person’s response from a mindset that cancer is challenging but manageable fosters thoughts driven by a renewed appreciation for life, inspiration for personal growth, and motivation for positive lifestyle changes. 

Remembering that mindset is a belief about the nature and processes of things in the world, let’s look at some of the biggest influencers of cancer and mindset. 

Factors That Influence Cancer Mindset: 

  • Your Personality 
  • Personal Coping Style 
  • Your Socioeconomic Status 
  • Your Level of Social Support 
  • How Well You Trust And Communicate With Your Care Team

You Can Choose To Have A “Cancer is Manageable” Mindset and Control What You Can Control 

One of the ways to take control of the chaos of a cancer diagnosis is to give yourself some time to reflect on how you want to face this challenge.  You will be faced with many decisions and there is empowerment in being prepared to make thoughtful choices based on your needs and desires. 

To help you begin, consider the following:   

  • Who is supporting me?
  • What outcome am I most hopeful for? 
  • Are there spiritual components I want to practice?  
  • What does a “good” treatment plan look like for me? 
  • Where am I most comfortable receiving treatment?
  • Are there activities I want to continue during treatment? 
  • What side effects am I most concerned about? How can I mitigate them?
  • What am I willing to share with others and what would I like to hold privately? 

Each person will have a different “vision” of what “good” will look like for them.  And just as no one’s cancer story is the same, no one’s vision will be the same.  

Taking the time to create a vision for yourself will give you a clear picture of what you want the next several months ahead to look like. Additionally, writing a vision and establishing a clear goal is a proven way to increase the chance of realizing your goal. 

Therefore, share your vision with your support system, family,  friends, and even your care team.  In doing so, you will take back some control to ensure that your needs and desires are understood so those around you can do their part to help you realize your vision.   

Your vision will provide you with a sense of peace and direction as you use it to filter the myriad of decisions you will face through the lens of what defines good for you. 

Cancer is common. However, every person’s circumstances are unique. Contact Dana for a complimentary call to learn how we can help you cast your vision.    



Cell Press. “Empowering cancer patients to shift their mindsets could improve care, researchers argue.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2019. <>.