Focusing on the Positive Amid Cancer
- “Toddlers and Tiaras” reality TV star Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell, 29, finds joy in fun social media videos alongside her family. She’s been battling stage 4 adrenal carcinoma (ACC).
- Adrenal Carcinoma, which is also called adrenocortical cancer, is a rare cancer that starts in one or both small, triangular glands (adrenal glands) located at the top of your kidneys. Symptoms usually include stomach pain.
- When dealing with stage 4 cancer, efforts tend to shift from seeking a cure to learning how to live with your disease and managing your symptoms.
- Experts recommend anyone facing cancer should make sure they continue to prioritize their overall well-being, which includes their emotional health. By doing the things you love, you can fuel a positive attitude, which can help your prognosis.
“Toddlers and Tiaras” reality TV star Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell, 29, battling stage 4 cancer, isn’t letting her diagnosis steal her joy. The chipper sister of Honey Boo Boo and eldest daughter of Mama June recently returned to social media for support and solace after taking time away to undergo intense chemotherapy for adrenal carcinoma (ACC). This rare cancer forms on the adrenal glands.
View this post on InstagramRead MoreCardwell revealed she was diagnosed with stage 4 adrenal carcinoma earlier this year. According to the National Cancer Institute, this rare cancer starts in one or both of the small, triangular glands (adrenal glands) at the top of your kidneys. Adrenal glands make the hormones that instruct every organ and tissue in your body.
After taking a hiatus from social media to focus on chemotherapy, Cardwell recently returned for the “snack challenge.” While showcasing and tasting a variety of snacks, she revealed new hair growth she lost during chemo.
“Ignore the hair, okay! I don’t know what it’s doing,” Cardwell said while running her hand over her head.
She also gave her online supporters insight into her cancer treatment.
“Overall, it’s going good, and chemo is working, we come to find so things are looking good,” Cardwell said in her video post.
View this post on Instagram
Among cancer patients, social media can be helpful for their emotional well-being because online supporters can reaffirm their positivity. This appears to be the case for Cardwell, who was showered with positive messages since her social media return after chemo.
“I am so happy to see you feeling and looking so good,” Instagram user Debi Dixon wrote.
“Looking good, Anna! Praying for you,” Instagram user Diane wrote.
Helping Patients Cope With Chemo
The reality TV show that made Cardwell’s family household names began in 2011. The program gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the life of child beauty pageants. The show’s popularity launched a spinoff, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” for four seasons until 2017.
Cardwell, a mother of two, underwent immunotherapy, which involves using the body’s own immune system to target cancer cells. Immunotherapy has shown great promise to help treat a wide range of cancers, according to Dr. Steven Rosenberg, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute.
“Using a patient’s own immune cells is a very complex way to treat a cancer,” Dr. Rosenberg said. His team has developed methods for genetically modifying a patient’s own immune cells “to recognize the cancer in a new way” and to kill it. There have been major breakthroughs.
As previously noted, she also received chemotherapy to help treat her cancer. Among the side effects she’s dealt with was the emotional stage of hair loss.
Hair loss usually begins about three to four weeks after chemotherapy and continues throughout treatment. It happens because this treatment targets quickly dividing cells throughout the body. That includes cancer cells but also hair cells.
WATCH: Coping with hair loss during cancer treatment.
Fortunately, hair loss during cancer treatment is not all bad news. Most people can expect regrowth four to six weeks after treatment. However, when your hair grows back, you may notice some changes in its color and texture. If losing your hair is a concern for you before cancer treatment, know you have options like wigs, hats, wraps, and scarves, among other things.
It remains unclear how much more chemotherapy Cardwell has left and what other treatments await her along her cancer journey.
Focusing on the Positive Amid Cancer
Even while battling incurable stage 4 cancer, Cardwell’s admirable positive attitude is heartwarming. Her social media videos often show her smiling and surrounded by loved ones.
Dr. Zuri Murrell of Cedars-Sinai says this helps a cancer patient’s prognosis.
“A positive attitude is really important,” Dr. Murrell told SurvivorNet.
“My patients who thrive, even with stage 4 cancer, from the time that they, about a month after they’re diagnosed, I kind of am pretty good at seeing who is going to be OK. Now, doesn’t that mean I’m good at saying that the cancer won’t grow,” Dr. Murrell says.
Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecological oncologist at Arizona Center for Cancer Care, says people with cancer should be making time to do things that make them happy, even if that includes harmless, fun social media challenges.
“We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better outcomes,” Chase said.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you’re battling cancer or on the other side of it, and you’re struggling with your outlook on life, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor to get the conversation started:
- What can I do if I’m struggling to be thankful for what I have in my life?
- Are there local resources for people wishing to improve their mental health?
- What else can I do to help reduce my stress level during my cancer journey?
- It’s difficult for me to find happiness and joy. How can I find help?