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What is your relationship with hope?

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?

Absolutely, but…

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?

When hope is not enough. #cancer #metastaticbreastcancer #MBC #coping #breastcancer

Lauren

Friday 11th of March 2022

What a lovely post. I think that hope is something that is both amazing and can be quite scary hoping but not knowing the outcome of something or the future. But amazing because it is something to believe in and that will be better. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on hope.

Lauren - bournemouthgirl

Nancy

Monday 14th of March 2022

Lauren, Thank you. You're right. Hope can be both amazing and scary. Among other things. Thank you for reading and commenting too.

Krystine

Sunday 6th of March 2022

Hope is what dreams are made of....even in the darkest of times.

Nancy

Thursday 10th of March 2022

Krystine, So true. Thank you.

Abigail Johnston

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

I love that Emily Dickinson poem (well, really most of them) but that one in particular. For me, hope takes on different meaning in different contexts. For instance, my faith leads me to the hope of heaven while my intellect and cognitive abilities leads me to hoping for scientific breakthroughs. My hope of being remembered by my children keeps me getting out of bed each morning. What gives me the most hope in the possibility of more time and perhaps a cure one day are the amazing men and women living with and advocating for research and progress.

Hope truly is a moving goalpost and I have to adjust my hopes and goals as time goes on. One mantra that has helped me is to repeat, “where there is life, there is hope; where there is love, there is hope.”

Nancy

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Abigail, You're so right about those different contexts. That all makes perfect sense. Hope evolves, or as you said, it's a moving goalpost. Sometimes it evolves frequently as we adjust to whatever situation we find ourselves in and, of course, it takes on different meanings as it evolves. Just another reason why hope is so personal and means different things to different people. I love the mantra you shared. Thank you for your, as always, insightful comments.

Linda C Boberg

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

I sometimes equate hope with God. I pray that God is listening, hope he will answer my prayer. When I don't get what I want (like hearing this morning that the cancer entering my liver is real), then I get angry. And it takes some time before I find HOPE again. I also am pretty resilient. I know that eventually I'll come out of the despairing gloom, latch on to something that will lead me back to Hope. Sometimes it's a text from my kid that reads, "I'm glad you took the path you did, even if it sucks to deal with treatments, Mom. We want you to stick around." How can that not inspire HOPE?

Nancy

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Linda, First of all, I'm really sorry to hear that the cancer in your liver has been confirmed. That sucks. It's perfectly normal to feel angry about that news of progression. I hope your next line of treatment does its thing and isn't too terribly harsh. And yes, texts like the one you shared certainly inspire hope as well as resolve to carry on. Wishing you the very best in the the days ahead as you start a new treatment path. Thank you for sharing some thoughts on hope.

Abigail Johnston

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

I’m sooooo sorry to hear about your liver progression.

Christina Jue

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

When I was a child, my dad told me to "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst". While that sometimes paralyzed him into inaction, I feel like that gave me the ability to live in hope. I don't hope blindly. I don't believe that they're going to come up with a miracle cure or that I'm going to outlive all of the other patients with metastatic disease. But I could, and that means that I should prepare for both living a long full life and dying early.

There is some toxicity online that is blindly hopeful - toxic positivity. And that can be hurtful. Sometimes I have to limit my interactions with communities that have those people. Sometimes people ask why I withdraw from sharing my story, or build a wall. But I try to continue to be as open as possible while not letting it get to me.

My answer might be different as my metastatic disease progresses. Right now it's very limited, so I don't feel as bound by it.

I have my will prepared and my funeral wishes known, but I still also deposit money into my retirement accounts. I still eat healthily to avoid the diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity that plagues my family. I'm not blowing all my money to travel to Bali, but I try to fit in a few new experiences every week. I live in this liminal space of both dying and not dying, and I don't feel either hopeful or hopeless about it. It just... is.

Also, I don't just hope, I act too. I look at the clinical trials, and see if I am eligible for any of them that might benefit my case. But I don't view that as a hopeful or hopeless activity. It is another thing that just is.

My new thing this time is intro into Aerial Acrobatics. I benefit from having metastases in non weight bearing bones, and as long as I don't have progression my oncologist gave me the go ahead to go do athletic things.

Nancy

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Christina, It sounds like you are living with both hope and realism which is very different than living with blind hope. And yeah, don't get me started on the toxic positivity topic. I'm glad you've found some balance and good for you for trying that new acrobatics class. That's impressive! Good luck with it - with everything. Thank you for sharing some thoughts about hope.

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