Attitude towards cancer can affect your recovery

NEW YORK (CNN) – Advances in medicine can only heal a person so much. Patients also have to do their part in healing especially cancer patients.

About eight-years ago, Carolyn Higgins got a call from her doctor nobody wants to get.

“She said I think you have multiple myeloma I went home and I looked it up and I saw the 3-5 years, which at that point I put out of my head, because realistically there was no way that was going to happen. I was in denial,” said Higgins.

Eventually, reality set in, and Higgins went to the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University where a new drug was being tried. Clinical trials can have risks, but that didn’t phase her.

“I didn’t think about that. I thought about the prospect of being cured,” said Higgins.

In time, Higgins health improved. Her doctor says Higgins’ success with experimental treatments has a lot to do with the genetics of her cancer but her attitude is also a major factor.

“We’re a partnership here. I will give you information and I will provide guidance, but I do need to know that you are a willing partner in determining the course of care for your disease. Carolyn brings it from the other side, she says this is what I want to do and this is what I want to do, and this is how I want to do it,” said Dr. Sagar Lonial of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

As for Higgins, she says cancer be damned, she’s going to be here for a very long time.

“We can choose to be positive. Nobody gave me 8 years. I told myself I wasn’t going to die of this disease,” said Higgins.

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