Optimistic Healing

July 10, 2009 6:15:13 PM PDT
Studies show having a positive attitude could make you less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes and pain from conditions like arthritis. But what if you've already gotten the devastating diagnosis? Can an upbeat outlook make a difference? Two women are incorporating a positive attitude into their treatment plan.With all of the singing, dancing, and laughing going on, you would think Kristin Kettel was celebrating, but there are a few unwanted guests at her party.

"It's hard sometimes when the doctors come in because they look at my scans, and I know they don't look good," Kettel told Ivanhoe.

Kettel is 36-year-old mother of two. She has stage-four, metastatic colon cancer.

"I've been through 13 rounds of chemotherapy within the last seven months, I think," Kettel said.

Instead of crying, Kettel laughs with friends at her "chemo parties." Each one has a theme, and it has nothing to do with cancer.

"Getting through chemotherapy, alone, I consider a success, and so it's because I've had that positive attitude," Kettel said.

But can that attitude affect the outcome of disease? In a Johns Hopkins study, researchers followed nearly 600 people with a family history of heart disease. Those with a positive outlook were half as likely to experience a heart event.

"Attitude is all the difference in the world, and think about it, attitude is a choice," Robert P. Shannon, M.D., Assistant Professor at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., told Ivanhoe.

While scientific studies on cancer show mixed results, one found breast cancer patients with feelings of hopelessness are less likely to survive.

Marilyn Wattman-Feldman says her upbeat outlook may not cure her stage four breast cancer, but it's made her physically and emotionally stronger.

"I had to look at everything, even the chemo treatments, and find something funny about what was going on as hard as that was," Wattman-Feldman told Ivanhoe.

Strong-minded women who haven't forgotten how to have fun even during the fight of their lives.

A recent study of healthy women found optimistic women had a 14-percent lower risk of death from any cause after eight years compared to those who were more pessimistic. More cynical women had 16-percent higher risk of dying than more trusting women.

Cindy Nelson, Public Affairs
The Mayo Clinic
Jacksonville, FL
(904) 953-0464

Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
Breaking News E-Mail Alerts | Text Message Alerts
More News on abc30.com
Local | California/State | National/World | Weather | Entertainment | Business | Politics | Sports | Consumer Watch | Mr. Food |