An Upside To Breast Cancer?
It's not often you come across science that shines a bright light on breast cancer. But new research from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center does just that.
In their study, researchers looked at the post-traumatic growth (PTG), or positive life changes, that occurred in 653 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. In the two years they surveyed patients, researchers found that PTG increased over time. Specifically, patients developed a stronger relationship with both themselves and others, as well as increased their appreciation for life, spirituality, and even homemade cooking, according to responses that patients gave in their questionnaires.
"A breast cancer diagnosis has an impact of an earthquake. It's a seismic event in one's life and [when women are diagnosed], they will look at the job they're in, the relationship they're in and say 'enough,' " says lead study author Suzanne Danhauer, PhD. "It's the sort of thing that helps a person stop something they haven't been happy with."
Take the woman with breast cancer Dr. Danhauer met at a meeting a few years ago. "She told me that her diagnosis made her realize how much she hates making dinner," she says. "And so she told her family that they could pitch in or they would be ordering a lot of take out. A diagnosis can really shift what women spend their time on."
And if you're thinking these women were just generally happier people in general, think again. Dr. Danhauer says that the results of this sample weren't linked to optimism, so it wasn't just a group of women more likely to see the glass half full.
Our guide for everything you want to know about Breast Cancer is all right here.
If your diagnosis hasn't sparked a priority shift, you're not alone: PTG doesn't happen for everyone. It's not a universal idea, and not every survivor will experience it. In fact, Dr. Danhauer met another survivor who said she'd scream if one more person told her to stay positive. But it's not about being told to do something, she says. It's about the positive changes that can spontaneously occur regardless.
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