The Importance of Positivity
- Rebecca Crews received a stage one breast cancer diagnosis in 2020 following a mammogram and ultrasound. Today, she is cancer-free after a double mastectomy.
- Crews often shared uplifting messages for her followers. In a recent post, she reminded her followers that we can gain strength, courage and confidence from every life experience.
- A cancer battle, or any struggle for that matter, can lead to a whole host of complex emotions – and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel the negative ones too. Holding onto hope in the face of adversity can be a really powerful way to get through the toughest of times, and focusing on positive thinking is one way to try to do that.
Crews, 56, was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2020 following a mammogram and ultrasound. She then had a double mastectomy in March.Read More
“Within a month, I was in surgery,” she previously told Health. “They got everything out. My reconstruction went off without a hitch.”
What is Stage 1 Breast Cancer?
Thanks to screenings and early intervention, Crews is cancer free today and enjoying life beyond the disease. But even still, Crews has continued to talk about her cancer journey to help others and often fill her socials with inspiring messages for all of her followers. In a recent Instagram post, she shared some uplifting words about conquering fear and learning from every life experience.
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“We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience we go through in life,” she wrote in her caption. “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows. Look at fear in the eye and conquer it like a boss! You are more than you think and YOU ARE CAPABLE of doing great things in life!”
And, thankfully, when it came to the fear associated with her cancer diagnosis, Crews had a loving partner to lean on for support. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Crews and her husband, Terry, talk about how their relationship grew even stronger amid her cancer battle and they faced fear together.
“My wife and I have been through a lot of things,” Terry told SurvivorNet. “We’ve lost homes; we’ve lost children before — things that would have taken a lot of people out — and we survived them all. I looked at it like an opportunity. This is what love is. When you look at the marriage vows it’s not when everything’s great. This is where the rubber meets the road.”
Understanding Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a common cancer that has been the subject of much research. Many women develop breast cancer every year, but men can develop this cancer too – though it is more rare, in part, due to the simple fact that they have less breast tissue.
There are many treatment options for people with this disease, but treatment depends greatly on the specifics of each case. Identifying these specifics means looking into whether the cancerous cells have certain receptors. These receptors – the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor – can help identify the unique features of the cancer and help personalize treatment.
“These receptors, I like to imagine them like little hands on the outside of the cell, they can grab hold of what we call ligands, and these ligands are essentially the hormones that may be circulating in the bloodstream that can then be pulled into this cancer cell and used as a fertilizer, as growth support for the cells,” Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
One example of a type of ligand that can stimulate a cancer cell is the hormone estrogen, hence why an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer will grow when stimulated by estrogen. For these cases, your doctor may offer treatment that specifically targets the estrogen receptor. But for HER2 positive breast cancers, therapies that uniquely target the HER2 receptor may be the most beneficial.
Staying Positive during a Cancer Journey
Crews’ uplifting message about facing fear and finding strength during difficult times is one that’s very relevant to others who have faced cancer. And for those currently fighting off the disease, you should know it’s very normal to have negative feelings throughout your cancer journey – and it’s okay to express them too! Anger, shame, fear and anxiety are all to be expected. But doctors will tell you that people who find a way to work through the emotions and stay positive tend to have better outcomes.
“A positive attitude is really important,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, previously told SurvivorNet. “I’m pretty good at telling what kind of patients are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who, they have gratitude in life.”
At SurvivorNet, we get to share many stories of positivity and resilience because there’s no shortage of brave cancer warriors holding onto hope in the face of adversity.
Take Danielle Ripley-Burgess for example. She’s a cancer survivor who was first diagnosed with colon cancer in high school and then proceeded to beat the disease not once, but twice. Understandably so, Ripley-Burgess has had to work through a lot of complex emotions that came with her cancer journey. Even still, she’s always managed to look at life with a positive attitude.
“As I’ve worked through the complex emotions of cancer, I’ve uncovered some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities,” she previously told SurvivorNet. “I carry a very real sense that life is short, and I’m grateful to be living it! This has made me optimistic. Optimism doesn’t mean that fear, pain and division don’t exist – they do. Our world is full of negativity, judgment, and hate. Optimism means that I believe there’s always good to be found despite the bad, and this is what my life is centered around.”
She moves through life with a sense of purpose unique to someone who’s been faced with the darkest of times. Happily in remission today, she’s determined to, one day, leave the world better than she found it.
“We can choose to stay positive, treat others with respect and look for the light in spite of the darkness,” she said. “This type of attitude and behavior will lead to the kind of legacies I believe all of us hope to leave.”