What is hope?
Hope is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting. It acts as a protective mechanism and it is essential for managing and adjusting to an illness as serious as cancer. Maintaining hope in the face of cancer is not always easy. At times of crisis you may need extra support and assistance from your family, your friends, and your health care team.
Do people hope the same way?
Many people have never thought much about the role that hope plays in their lives. You may never have thought about how you hope or how you learned to hope. Yet research tells us that people hope very differently and that our personal hope is affected by a number of social factors including the way our family hopes.
What are the different ways to hope?
Families have well-established ways of hoping. Your family hope pattern contains your family values and norms regarding hope, and the ways that you maintain hope. For example, one family might use a religious or spiritual basis for their hope. As a result, statistics and medical facts may not be very important for them because they believe God will decide the outcome. Another family may use information as a basis for their hope. Their approach to hoping leans more toward fact gathering. They read about cancer and its treatment. They seek second, and even third and fourth opinions. For them, information equates with control and hope.
What is the best way to hope?
No one hoping pattern is the best or most useful. What is important is that you recognize how you and your family think about hope and what methods you use to maintain hope. You need to be direct with your family, friends, and health care team about what is not helpful to you with regard to using and maintaining hope. Everyone might not feel as hopeful as you feel. Remember that you have the right to decide for what, when, and how you hope.
Is it best to keep hoping for a cure, no matter what my situation?
Hope related to cancer is broader than just the desire for successful treatment and control of disease. Hope has many dimensions. It changes over time as situations and reality change. For example, when first diagnosed with cancer, you hope for a cure. If you have a type of cancer that cannot be cured, you may have to shift your hope to control—long-term control. Even if hope for long-term control dims, you can find other things to hope for. Perhaps you are hoping to have a family reunion, or hoping to see a child graduate from college, or hoping to welcome the birth of a grandchild. There is always something to hope for, and it is important to choose hope.