The Practice of Positivity

All my life, people have told me that I am a very positive person. For the majority of my life, I didn’t really think anything of it – maybe I just smile a lot? Maybe they just wanted to say something nice? Maybe that was some people’s way of saying that I am unrealistic?! Whatever their reasons, I have heard these words many times.

But it wasn’t until these last few months when I actually started to HEAR these words. People would utter this same phrase to me, but it sounded different, people would look at me different when they said it, and these words left me feeling different than they ever had before. I have given this a lot of thought while staring out my living room window at our beautiful mountain, drinking my morning dose of green tea…and I understand the shift now.

I believe that when people hear a CANcer survivor’s story and the word “positivity” comes out of their mouth, they are shocked, confused and maybe feel a little duped. The words “cancer” and “positive” were not supposed to ever reside within the same thought formulation! That is what the media, society and hollywood have taught us, anyways. And they know what’s what! They scan my face for a sign…a wavering of my expression, a trembling of my lip, or maybe a crack in the darn smile! “Why is she smiling”?! But this doesn’t happen. So there we are in this conundrum that I have been in countless times since my diagnosis. The conundrum where I, the CANceree, am convincing the other person that “I’m okay” and “I can do this” instead of them comforting me with words like “You’ll be okay”, “Your strong” and “You’ll get through this”. Uhh, I already know these things – I am being the UNICORN, remember?! But, alas, cancer is a difficult thing for people to be “okay” with.

But I believe that this comfort comes from the same place that this blog baby comes from – the power and the practice of positivity. Positivity is a mindset and it is a practice. It is a way of life and a way of living. Everyday we are faced with hundreds of decisions to make and are able to decide how we execute or approach them. With every decision, we can choose to be better from it, or bitter from it. We can choose to be mad and discouraged that life events that we not part of our “plan” decided to show up, or we can choose to grow and learn with them.

So when I was faced with the most life-altering task ahead of me at age 27 – the task of going to war with cancerous cells multiplying within my temple of a body, I realized I had control over very little. The disease was here and I HAD to fight it, I had no idea or control over how I would physically feel or over my physical abilities over the months of treatment. I would not be working for the next 7+ months and would therefore not be making my same wage that Travis and I had built our lifestyle around. Heck, I couldn’t even go on my dream honeymoon to Bali in a timely manor! My decision to the task as hand was clear – I would win the fight. I realized that all I really had control over was my approach. I had control over my mind, and with my mind I could do anything as long as I truly believed that I could.

And I believed I could, so I did. The power of positivity has gotten me over the half way point of my treatment so far, and I have never felt more “positive” than I do now. And now when people tell me that I am such positive person, I realize that they are not just speaking to how I am acting or what I am saying in the moment. They are speaking to my character, and to the the person, with the power of the mind, I have trained myself to become. Every time I hear these words now, I feel myself light up, because for me,  this is the holy grail of compliments. It is not a default compliment like “your pretty” or “you have beautiful eyes” that you just ended up with! It is someone acknowledging my dedication to a practice, my way of life and all that it has taught me. A practice that I know understand I have been nurturing for my entire life to be ready for this  fight.

“It is within the moments of helplessness that we must learn to surrender to what we do not have control over and go to battle with a strong and determined mind”.

With Love,






2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jodi Lebourdais says:

    Really powerful message, I find it such a challenge to practice positivity but I love that you turned it into a choice…choose to “be better or be bitter.” I am locking in to that phrase whenever I hit a road block or challenge. Big or small, the choice won’t always change the outcome, but it will definitely affect my attitude towards the experience. Thanks for the reminder Tess, xoxo.


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