Beat the Odds is not “you have to stay positive” type of the program. First it is practically impossible to stay positive all the time and placing such a demand on a patient only adds to the burden, may create sense of failure and guilt as well as increase the fear that any difficult emotion, any stress may harm them.
We know that these difficult emotions provide us with unique opportunities to learn from them. So, instead of trying to run away from them, pretend that they don’t happen, or use distractions, we teach ways of profound understanding of the attitudes, beliefs and thoughts that fuel them. We then can apply cognitive-behavioral techniques that enable the resolution of the suffering at hand and reduce the frequency and intensity of future such difficult moments. We teach ways of effectively dealing with emotional crises rather than asking to stay positive.
You may be asking if this program is for you. Yes, it is. Of course you are coping the best you can but with some training, you learn how to improve on that. As research has shown, there is a lot that can be done to complement your current cancer treatment, improve your quality of life, reduce stress, expand social support and increase the odds of getting well.
Also, there are many lifestyle modifications that may enhance survival and quality of life like increased physical activity, healthy nutrition, getting proper sleep and rest, expanding social support, experiencing fun, laughter and joy, connection with nature as well as creative expression. These elements are part of the Beat the Odds program and the the focus of Boost the Odds, which is dedicated for the alumni of Beat the Odds and is focusing on lasting healthy lifestyle modification without deprivation, stress or guilt.
However, we don’t control our odds and there are no guarantees that even if we apply all these skills and lead the healthiest lifestyle, we won’t experience recurrence or another cancer. We know, however, that the quality of our life improves when we apply theses skills and the quality of life, not the length of survival, is the focus of our program. Extended survival time may potentially be a by-product of enjoying the life itself and its better quality. So, even though many our participants first ask their doctors “How long will I live?”, we encourage them to focus on the question “How will I live?”.