Touro Infirmary

FALL 2013

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"C" TYPECASTING Dr. Lydia Temoshok, the original researcher in that study of melanoma patients, described the Type C personality as "overwhelmingly nice, marked by passivity, appeasement, and repression of anger and other strong emotion." The patients in her study, she noted, went far out of their way and changed their schedules to make time to talk with her, so as not to disappoint her. They seemed extremely worried about their disease progression, but mainly for the effect that it was having on their families. Although the research wasn't specific to gender, this type of personality may be particularly prevalent in women, says Dr. Sellon, simply because women already tend to take a nurturing role. "It's not the cancer that gives them that personality, but it may be that personality suppresses their immune system and makes them more susceptible to some cancers," explains Dr. Sellon. PERSONALITY AND ILLNESS Dr. Robin Kovachy, a medical oncologist at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo., says that although she thinks the idea of a Type C personality is "a lot of bunk," people with extremely nice and nurturing personalities may tend to put off their own health issues until the conditions are more advanced and less treatable. "The studies that have tried to show this link between cancer and personality simply weren't very good studies," says Dr. Kovachy. "The flip side of this is that there is a lot of stuff out there now that says if you have a positive attitude, you will do better with your cancer, but there's absolutely no evidence of that," she adds. "Cancer doesn't care what kind of personality you have—it does what it does." In her experience, she says, people deal with cancer the same way they cope with any bump in the road. "People either have good coping skills or they don't. Cancer doesn't really change that," she says. The Type C personality may be particularly prevalent in women because they already tend to take a nurturing role. type c c personality traits • Overly nice and nurturing • Passive • Prefers appeasing others • Tends to repress anger and other strong emotions TOO NICE FOR YOUR OWN GOOD? Although the link between cancer and personality is far from firm, says Dr. Sellon, it may be worthwhile to examine whether you have an overly nurturing personality, simply because it's healthier, overall, to maintain a balance between nurturing others and nurturing yourself. "We need to try to recognize and educate people who are [Type C] personality type and help them to find a balance, in the same way we recognize and counsel those who are Type A," says Dr. Sellon. "A psychologist can help you work on little things that can help you make changes in how you act and learn to nurture yourself more." It may be even more important to explore your personality type if you've already been diagnosed with cancer. "Medicine is evolving beyond just chemotherapy to an integrated mind/body approach to cancer treatments," says Dr. Sellon. "Working on things that may add stress to your life can benefit you even after you have the diagnosis of cancer." If you find yourself feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or unappreciated, and aren't comfortable opening up to those closest to you, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider about finding a more balanced, healthier pattern for your life. • SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m FA L L 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 31

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