I talk a lot about hope. I often suggest it is something really important, essential even, to have when living in any type of difficult or troubling times. (And I’m sorry to say that when you think about it, we are all living in troubling times.) But while I know hope’s importance to me (and I think to everyone) and I can give examples of hope, I’m not really sure how to explain it.
The definition of hope doesn’t even hint at its potential power to give one something to look toward, work toward, plan for. Oxford: a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen Ho hum. Cambridge English adds to that and usually have a good reason to think it might. Better. A google search does a little better than that – huffpost.com says “Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation or desire.” Okay, good. Get the idea of an optimistic attitude in there. Much more than just a feeling. Attitude is something one has some control over.
Here’s what I think. Hope is what gives one courage. Courage to forge ahead in the face of adversity, courage to “brave the storm”, whatever one’s storm may be. It is believing that a positive outcome is a viable possibility, a possibility worthy of reaching, of striving for.
Okay, now for a concrete indicator of hope. In the clinical trial I’m currently in I have to have lab work done every six weeks, both at and in between my check-ups at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Recently I got a standing order from my oncologist at Dana-Farber for this blood work. When I saw that it was a standing order and knew I just did the first of 30 times in the order, hope flooded my mind, body and soul. Forty-five months ago I statistically had just a few months to live. Dana-Farber gave me hope at that time for greater possibilities. Now I have a standing order for over three years. Now, maybe all standing orders have that number, but I’ve never had a standing order on this journey because things haven’t been stable enough to think longterm for the same lab work. It doesn’t really matter even if the standing order was for someone else’s convenience – it gives me HOPE! Hope that I’ll be here for another “whatever”. Hope that my participation in this trial will help doctors and researchers better understand how to treat ROS1 lung cancer, especially when it has metastasized to the lining of one’s brain, or maybe how to prevent it from metastasizing at all. Hope to have the courage to brave the storm with an optimistic, joyful attittude. Hope.
I made the “coins” in the photo above to take with me this week when I travel for my check-up at Dana-Farber. Playing with art materials is one of the many “gifts of time” I’ve found joy in. My pursuit of find joy in the everyday every day is quite easy. I know this isn’t so for everyone. So, in this small way, I hope to bring joy, hope, and courage to others.