Nurturing and Restoring Hope 


 
 
 


      Nurturing  and Restoring Hope
The will to Live
 Living and Dying
      Chapter 3 -
        Emotional Health and Cancer:

←  Comfort zone


 

             It Couldn't Be Done - Edgar Guest


Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;

At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done. 
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one, the dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.



Hope “springs from a sense of the possible.” 


Hope is not the closing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk, or the failure.

It is trust that- if I fail now - I shall not fail forever; and if I am hurt, I shall be healed.

It is trust that Life is good, love is powerful, and the future is full of promise.


Hope is significant to cancer patients in their struggle to find meaning in life as they adapt to the disease and its treatment. Hope is essential for recovery. Hope “springs from a sense of the possible.” . Without hope, recovery can seem out of reach. Hope IS a reality. Hope is essential; everyone involved in the medical profession,  know that if an individual's spirit has broken and the will to live has gone, there is no medicine, orthodox or complementary, that will get them well again.

I've learned from my own experience, and that of many others, that hope is a fluid thing, changing in response to people's needs. When you're just diagnosed, you hope for a treatable disease and recovery. When you face treatment, you may hope that potential side effects are minimal and that you get through treatment easily and successfully.

Those dealing with advanced disease may hope to be pain free, to have time to spend in meaningful ways, for the chance to say "I love you" to someone special, or to resolve outstanding issues. By talking, reaching out, letting others know what you're feeling, and asking for the information and support you need, you build your own feelings of hope, helping others feel hopeful as well.


           


Hope has different meanings for each person. For me it is a component of a positive attitude and acceptance of our fate in life. We use our strengths to gain success to live life to the fullest. Circumstances often limit our hopes of happiness, cure, remission or increased longevity. We also live with fears of poverty, pain, a bad death or other unhappy experiences.

One of my patient with advanced cancer described hope to me in the following way:

"As I was just diagnosed, I hoped that there was a medicine strong enough to treat my cancer and that I would recover. As I started with the treatment I hoped that the side effect would be minimal and manageable for me and that the drugs would destroy the cancer cells. As my cancer progressed, I was very fearful and hoped that I had enough time with my family and friends and to resolve any conflicts and unfinished issues i had with some people. Hope gave me a reason to go on. I learned to reach out to others and to express my feelings of hope, which was very helpful for myself and for my loved ones. Hope certainly gave me the strength to keep moving in a positive direction." - Rebecca

        

        Hope also plays a key role in achievement. 

You may worry so much that you lose sight of the possibility of recovery and lose your sense of optimism. On the other hand, you may become so hopeful and confident that you lose sight of reality. Your main challenge is balancing your worry and your hope.

  Hope is nourished by the way we live our lives. To achieve the best quality of life requires settling old problems, quarrels and family strife as well as completing current tasks. Problems that have not been resolved need to have completion. New tasks could be undertaken to feed the flame of hope.

         

Hope is the emotional and mental state that motivates you to keep on living, to accomplish things and succeed. A person who lacks hope can give up on life and lose the will to live.
 
Without any goals and hope, there is little to live for. But with hope, a positive attitude can be maintained, determination strengthened, coping skills sharpened, and love and support more freely given and received.
Even if a diagnosis is such that the future seems limited, hope must be maintained. Hope is what people have to live on. Take away hope and you take away a chance for the future, which leads to depression. When people fall to that low emotional state, their bodies simply turn of.
 
Hope can be maintained as long as there is even a remote chance for survival. It is kindled and nurtured by even minor improvements or a remission and maintained when crises or reversals occur.

Don’t rush hope. Feeling bad after a terrible experience is natural and necessary. Have faith that hope will return if given room and time to expand.


         


RESTORATION OF HOPE


“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all." -Emily Dickinson 

Part of the allopathic treatment is unfortunately often the complete annihilation of any hope of cure for the patient. To be sent away without any hope of betterment, without any support, leaves the patient in despair. But the patient needs hope. In hospitals this hope is often killed completely, because of some curious thinking on the part of the doctor and the use of inexorable statistics. Leaving any hope for a cure in the patient is often considered by allopathic doctors as giving ‘false hope’.


But what is false hope?


False hope is saying to your patient that you will surely cure him, that he will not die, etc. But no patient can heal if he, himself, does not decide to survive and for that he needs hope. Hope that he will not necessarily die, that his doctor will sustain him in his effort to find a solution to his life-threatening illness and that he is also capable to do so. He has to be respected in his attempt, knowing that his doctor will give the best treatment that is available.


 Not statistics decide what chance of a cure he has, but the patient himself.


He has to reconnect with his inner force, even if during the operation, radiation and chemotherapy he felt completely delivered to the authority of his doctor. He has to be helped to take responsibility for his life again and he has to be guided to do more than only wait and hope that there will not be any relapse. I have a patient that reacted wonderfully to chemotherapy and had almost no side effects and after 7 rounds her doctor decided to give her two more to see if even more progress was possible. But she didn’t have a good feeling to do so and decided herself not to take any more rounds of chemo and to wait and see if the tumor would shrink without further chemotherapy.


Dr. Bernie Siegel gives us a clear vision on false hope.


"The concept of false hope is one of the most ridiculous things I know of. Why should we try to authorize hope according to the statistics? Hope is a variable that can change the statistics. If only 99% die of a condition, then let’s stress the fact that that person has a chance of not dying. If you tell a group of those people that they are the 10% who will survive, you may find that 30% or 40% or 50% get better."

Taking one’s destiny into one’s hands and discussing the treatment as someone who is completely responsible for his own health and life is very important and enhances the possibilities of a cure. The patient has to be strong to face remarks from her doctors and others who don’t believe in any possibility of a cure.


          


If you have conventional medical treatment for your cancer, it is not uncommon that your hope and good will to live is sometimes tested to the limed.


Many chemotherapy agents can highly influence the mood of patients and can sometimes linger any hope.

These medications can make you feel very anxious, jittery and depressed.


You might feel hopeless or helpless; feel a lack of energy, have problems with your concentration and have lost your capacity to enjoy anything in your life.


Many of the chemotherapy agents influence weight; they cause a decrease in appetite or in the case of steroids, and increase in fluid retention and weight. This can have an impact on your body image.


The treatment can influence sleep or a high dose steroid can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep and stay asleep.


The fatigue of cancer influences also the energy levels and hair loss caused by chemotherapy agents can trigger depression for many women, in particular. Additionally, many of the chemotherapy agents, especially some of the hormonal treatments, can impact negatively on sexual desire and feelings.


Throughout these treatments you need to be special gentle with yourself and ask for all the help you can get. 


I suggest that you look out for an experience Mentor outside the family and your circle of friends who accompanies you in your daily life. 

Link: Mentor support 

A mentor will coach, inspire encourage and guide you every step on your way, helping you to assess your needs and create a personal action plan throughout and beyond your medical treatment. You might also consider supporting you and your immune system and vital energy with the many options complementary medicine has to offer.

 
Lara O'Hara:
"Of all the ingredients in the will to live, keeping my goals for living in my mind, hope was most vital for me".  
"Throughout my own journey to health there have been times when I felt so exhausted and drained by never-ending problems and felt ready to give up the struggle to survive. All too often it seemed easier to give up than to keep going. Frustrations and despair felt sometimes overwhelming.
However, I got out of bed every morning as if nothing was wrong. I may have known I was going to face things and could feel sick during the day, but I never got out of bed that way. But even during the roughest times, there have been often untapped reserves of physical and emotional strength to call upon to help me to survive one more day.
This reserve added meaning to my life and served as a lighthouse that lead me to a safe haven during a turbulent storm. I had so much to live for. I had four children who still needed me. I worked toward a solo and group exhibition of my paintings. I wanted to fulfill my promise to God and myself that I will support others who are facing a serious health situation, like cancer. My determination and dogged persistence has helped me to accomplish the difficult task of working towards my health".

        

Don’t give up hope.


Life may not be the party you have hoped for, but while you are still alive, you should dance.

I have a choice  in how I view life. I can look through eyes that only see the negative. Or I can look deeper and see where there is love and hope.

Don’t give up hope. Cancer may seem to erect a wall around you, or label you as damaged, sick, and different. But keep this in your mind: You are on a transformational journey, like the caterpillar in the cocoon… waiting to become a butterfly.

Everywhere we look there are small and large miracles happening - every day. Part of finding daily inspiration for living, is disciplining ourselves to pay attention to what is good and beautiful in our lives and our world- not just occasionally, but regularly. This is how we can find continuous inspiration.

The thoughts that you allow to enter your mind when you wake up help to shape the rest of your day. If you normally greet the day with a groan, try thinking about something wonderful the moment you open your eyes. If you have trouble thinking of anything wonderful, how about the very fact of being alive?

Every day, the sun rises, and with each sunrise, we are given the gift of a brand new day. The present moment truly is a present in every sense of the word. Daily inspiration comes from waking up every day and knowing that this day brings a fresh start. A start that builds on all the knowledge and understanding gained from the past.


        


Today...


Today is a chance to live, love, laugh, and learn. A chance to embrace the opportunities, challenges, and even the obstacles that life may present. An opportunity to shine your light on those around you. From where you are, look around at those nearest to you, and ask yourself how you can be of service to those people. Joy is in giving of ourselves and our gifts.

Today is not the first day of the rest of your life. Today is your life. Look around you- really look. This is your life. Soak it in. Really become aware of the beauty of your surroundings. Feel the breeze, hear the rain, look deeply at the stars. Gaze at a dragonfly hovering. Shadows lengthening. Shafts of sunlight through the clouds. Hear the leaves rustling. Notice the gnarled roots of big trees. Affection between family members.

Listen to birds singing. They sing- not because they are successful, wealthy, or admired. They sing because they are alive, and because they can.

All these things can provide daily inspiration- if you allow yourself to be inspired. Being inspired is a choice. Choosing to pay attention to the things that lift you up, not drag you down. Choosing to see the wonder in everything around you. Choosing to grasp the gift of today with both hands, and to suck every bit of juice out of it. Bottom line is, daily inspiration starts with you, but there are many, many inspiring people and resources around to help you keep remembering what it is all about. Make inspiration a part of your daily routine, and notice a spring in your step and a light in your eyes. Others will notice too!

           

When we’re trapped in a dark room sometimes all we need is a candle. It can illuminate a way out - through a window that appears to be boarded up, or through a trap door in the floor. Don’t underestimate the power of a little light. A small flame can grow bright enough for you to change your situation. A cancer diagnosis is not the end, even in extreme cases. Don’t let anyone put limits on the length or quality of your life.   


You are a person, not a statistic.


If knowing the statistics is important to you, remember that someone has to be in the recovery group, and it might as well be you. There is no cancer that is 100% fatal, and you might just as well be one of the survivors.

No one can say how long you will live, or what the course of your disease will be. No doctor, no loved one, no professional. No one. Not even you in the time of your greatest fear and hopelessness can say how long you will live or how you will die. It is normal and common to feel overwhelmed by a cancer diagnosis, as anyone who has been through this experience can attest.

Hope has different meanings for each person. For me it is a component of a positive attitude and acceptance of our fate in life. We use our strengths to gain success to live life to the fullest. Circumstances often limit our hopes of happiness, cure, remission or increased longevity. We also live with fears of poverty, pain, a bad death or other unhappy experiences. You may worry so much that you lose sight of the possibility of recovery and lose your sense of optimism. On the other hand, you may become so hopeful and confident that you lose sight of reality. Your main challenge is balancing your worry and your hope.

       

Hope is nourished by the way we live our lives. To achieve the best quality of life requires settling old problems, quarrels and family strife as well as completing current tasks. Problems that have not been resolved need to have completion. New tasks could be undertaken to feed the flame of hope.

To get started building your “hope” capacity, first see where you can and need to improve.

Cope Positively with the Treatment CD

The Cope Positively with the Treatment CD has four exercises to provide invaluable help to prepare for, face and get the very best outcome from cancer treatment. These are a relaxation exercise, a breathing exercise with breath meditation, a visualisation to empower cancer recovery.


     → Chapter 3 - Emotional Health and Cancer

←  Comfort zone

 

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