Many women in the group express frustration at being told to be positive, as it implies there is no place for feelings of sadness, anger or fear. Within the group women are are encouraged to express whatever they may be feeling and are supported to do so. For many, the group is one of the few places women can safely express what they feel without worrying about upsetting others. One woman put it this way:
“In the first instance the phrase, “be positive,” comes with the well-intentioned meaning that this will help you to overcome your disease. For me, when someone has said “be positive” for the umpteenth time I want to scream. They say, “You’re so brave and such an inspiration”. Well, I don’t feel brave nor do I feel that I’m an inspiration. I don’t want the pressure of being told to be positive when at times I feel anything but positive. I just do what I need to do and get by the best way I can.
BE POSITIVE, that is the face you put on in the morning when you get out of bed and face your daily activities of children, work, running a home and trying to protect your family and friends from the dark thoughts that at times abound. They don’t see behind the BE POSITIVE face or see the sadness and the feelings of hopelessness/futility. At night when everyone is asleep and you are in the dark that POSITIVE face can be put away until morning and the silent tears can fall and the dark thoughts play around in your head until you fall asleep.
After some time that phrase is not used as often and so obviously your positive attitude has helped you to survive this disease much longer that you ever thought you would. Breast cancer sufferers have to be positive in order to cope, but it is hard to be positive all the time and hard to take from people who mean well but have no idea.”