Is there a cancer personality?

Is there a personality type that is prone to cancer? Purportedly those who’s personality exhibit the following characteristics do have a higher propensity: highly conscientious, caring, beautiful, calming, responsible, hard-working and usually above average intelligence. One who exhibits strong tendencies towards carrying other peoples burdens. One who is deep seeded in their need to make others happy and be a people pleaser, often internalizes their emotions and has great difficulty expressing them. There’s also an adverse reaction to stress, which the person becomes unable to cope adequately.

If there’s a breast cancer personality then we women were blessed with it. I not only find the suggestion very sexist, but also very emasculating to men who receive a cancer diagnosis. No wonder most men with pectoral cancer don’t want to get diagnosed in the first place. It’s hard enough to deal with being a man with breast cancer. I imagine it’s like reading those waiting room questionnaires that ask if we have had testicular cancer but we don’t want to say we have balls. Pardon my sarcasm, but it’s meant to underscore the ridiculous way we treat gender specific cancers and how exclusive the club no one wanted to belong to really is.

If being a woman is the number one single characteristic that makes a person prone to cancer, then the second one far and away I’d say is our personalities, part nature and part nurture and a huge sprinkling of cultural influence. The pressure on women to have it all, the stress that goes along with it, as well as the nurturing qualities of great mothers everywhere become out crosses to bear. But most of us will not achieve everything successfully.

For your reading pleasure:

“Extreme suppression of anger was the most commonly identified characteristic of 160 breast cancer patients who were given a detailed psychological interview and self-administered questionnaire in a study conducted by the King’s College Hospital in London, as reported by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. “Patients results are based on statistical comparisons between 69 patients found at operation to have breast cancer and a control group comprising the remaining 91 patients with benign breast disease. Our principle finding was a significant association between the diagnosis of breast cancer and a behaviour pattern, persisting throughout adult life, of abnormal release of emotions. This abnormality was, in most cases, extreme suppression of anger and, in patients over 40, extreme suppression of other feelings.” [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022399975900628]</p>

I’d love to hear your feedback on this very topic. I find it quite maddening, but other opinions are welcome.

Am I reading into this all wrong?

7 thoughts on “Is there a cancer personality?

  1. I have to admit that a lot of the women I’ve met, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, do fit into the “caring” category – putting everyone else first, above themselves. However, I do NOT fit into that category! Or at least, I don’t believe I do.
    The trait that has come to the fore, throughout my experience of having cancer, has been the feeling that I “had to” do something – specifically jobs I didn’t enjoy – because I believed I needed the money. Previously, I simply went out and got another job.
    It would be wonderful if we knew what causes cancer – the trouble is, half the time it feels like we’re being blamed for our lifestyle choices on top of everything else. I do think that always putting everyone else first is unhealthy, though, in any situation.

  2. This is a fascinating topic. I’ve always been an introvert, preferring to deal internally with emotions and stress rather than releasing them. While I do not hold myself responsible for my cancer diagnosis, I’m sure this tendency didn’t help.

      1. There’s so many puns – my dad’s brain cancer, my grandmothers metastatic breast cancer and my own although none of which were hereditary were not from repressed anger considering we three seem to be the most likable and emotionally capable of our bunch. How did we miss all those repressed emotions? My dad had no problem expressing his feelings nor did his mother nor do I. But here I am on the precipice of the death they from which they suffered and eventually succumbed. Fuck it.

  3. Very interesting. The avenues that researchers pursue regarding cancer often surprise me, but as one with cancer I say the more the better. I can’t speak to breast cancer or to what it is like to have cancer as a female, but I think you raise some excellent points in general about reluctance to investigate one’s own well-being, especially something as under-discussed as breast cancer in males. In terms of personality, the one thing I can personally attest to is poor management of stress. Whether that contributed to my blood cancer I guess I will never know but sure seems a likely partial culprit.

    1. It’s a way to have the patient blame themselves for being a caring person? Everyone has stress. Everyone’s got some form of childhood trauma. Looks like an easy way for researchers to try and finagle their way into the spotlight. Pigeon holing and creating a way to have cancer patients blame themselves doesn’t seem fitting or fair, just cruel and wrong.

      People back in the 50s were far more repressed and didn’t openly discuss feelings around the dinner table, but the incidence of cancer was 50-60x less than it is today. I suppose those times when abuse took place couldn’t possibly have been as severe as today (sarcasm) but you get where I’m going.

      Environmental causes increased the incidence of cancer as well as other factors I’m not as well versed in talking about. If love to hear your thoughts- stress is on the increase for everyone women especially which is why heart disease is the number one killer of women today. Cancer is a close second.

      Thank you for entering the discussion!
      Ilene

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