What is your relationship with hope?
When you’ve finished reading some of my thoughts, I’d love to know what yours are.
Hope is a fine word, a fine thing to be sure; but hope is not enough — especially when talking about metastatic cancer.
Hope is a tricky thing. It’s elusive, it’s vague, it means different things to different people; which, of course, is part of its appeal. But this is also part of its problem.
Hope is easy. You just do it. Not much effort required. Then again, maybe a whole lot of effort is needed to wrap yourself in hope.
Hope is hard. Think about it. Who do you share your deepest hopes and dreams with? Not that many people, right?
Can something be both easy and hard?
Yes. Hope is tricky that way.
Perhaps we pin too much on hope. We expect a lot from it.
Is hope alone ever the answer to anything?
Probably not. It’s too much like wishing. Both are fine, of course, but neither is an actual solution or a means of getting whatever it is you’re hoping and wishing for.
To hope for something isn’t enough.
Kids hope Santa will bring them what they ask for.
Parents hope their kids will be good when they’re left with a sitter or when the family is attending an important event.
I hope I won’t have a recurrence.
My friends with MBC hope for new, less-harsh treatments that will extend lives, and of course, they hope such treatments come in time to benefit them.
We all hope there’ll be a cure for cancer one day while simultaneouly wondering if that’s even possible.
We hope for world peace.
We hope for an end to the pandemic.
We hope the never-ending partisan fighting stops.
We hope our democracy survives.
See what I mean?
Again, all that hoping doesn’t actually do a whole lot as far as achieving whatever your goal might be.
Hope works far better when it’s coupled with action.
And then there’s hope specific to metastatic disease.
Some people get all riled up when you start talking “negatively” about hope. How dare you or I strip anyone of her/his hope?
Doesn’t every metastatic patient have the right to want to be one of those outliers who beat the odds?
Hope can be hard to come by if you or your loved one has metastatic disease and you keep getting bad news. It was hard to keep feeling hopeful that Christmas Eve my family and I got devastating news about my mother’s MBC progression and prognosis.
Our hope had to switch gears entirely and pretty darn quickly too.
Still, hope and realism can certainly coexist.
For example, a metastatic patient might eventually decide to end harsh treatment while at the same time, hold onto hope for an EOL more about quality and comfort.
That is realism coupled with hope. That is hope nestled in with reality.
And how does a community of breast cancer folks like the one I’ve come to know on Twitter and elsewhere remain hopeful when there is so much dying?
As 2021 ended, we lost Lori and Liz and Ilene and Kristie in just a matter of weeks. And those were just the ones I knew.
I don’t have the answers. I know we need hope, yes. But, we also need everyone to do their part to elevate hope into something more — to keep trying, to keep working for more.
We can’t lose sight of the common goal — better and less harsh treatments for all, regardless of cancer type or stage. And extending, along with improving the quality of life for those living with MBC right now, must move up on the priority lists of advocates and researchers alike.
Hope alone isn’t and won’t be the answer, but we can’t give up on hope either. Humans are wired to keep looking for hope, are we not?
Hope has been the topic of writers and poets for centuries and I suspect that’ll continue.
Below is one such poem about hope by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
I love that, don’t you?
My late friend and fellow blogger, Kristi Konsoer, wrote the follwoing words about hope. Her words seem the perfect way to wrap up mine:
Hope is a necessity living with metastatic cancer that at times wears thin. Some days I run on fumes. Regular boosts are as essential as chemotherapy. The side effects from hope are a lot better, too. Nature provides hope every time. I look to the sky, clouds, sunshine, snow, and even rain. It’s in the trees, flowers, and wildlife. I feel it in the breeze. It is there in the stillness. Look, listen, and feel for it.
Hope is within each of us. It’s our nature.
Each new year, each new month, each new day brings renewed hope; sometimes, each new hour does.
Always remain hopeful, yes; because as Kristie wrote, hope is within each of us. It’s our nature. And this is a good thing.
But let’s also each do our part to elevate hope into something more.
Because hope alone is not enough.
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What is your relationship with hope and/or what helps you remain hopeful when going through challenges?
Cancer or no cancer, what is something you hope for right now?
Is hope ever enough?
What specific actions can be coupled with hope?