When I think about the word hope as it relates to cancer I can’t help but think back to my dad when he had cancer. We didn’t expect the diagnosis and once we accepted it there was no question that we hoped for the best in that year that followed.
Hope was essential to my dad and to our family especially given the unknown. Would surgery work? Would chemo work? No one could tell us for certain so we just had to wait and hold on to the hope that it would.
After surgery and chemo my dad’s cancer went into remission. We were hopeful that the start of a New Year was going to be cancer free. However, four short months later, his cancer was back. We were devastated but hoped for the best again as my dad started on a new chemo regimen. The new drug only had a 50% success rate in patients like my dad, but we hoped for the best.
When my dad learned that the drug was not working, he wanted to rest up before deciding what to do next. He had been through a lot and I remember him telling me that he was just hoping for warmer weather so that he could sit outside on the deck and soak in the sun. A simple pleasure like this was all that he hoped for at that moment.
Ultimately, my dad decided not to continue with treatment. Towards the end we could all see that he was in pain so we hoped that his suffering would not last long.
Even though my dad has been gone for almost 11 years now, hope related to his cancer experience is still at the forefront of my thoughts on a daily basis. Now I hope that:
• I always keep my dad alive in my heart and mind.
• My daughters grow up knowing about and loving the grandpa they never had a chance to meet in person.
• My mom finds love or companionship again.
• Clinicians and researchers continue to make progress in the treatment and management of all cancers.
Hope may seem passive to some, but I think it’s extremely powerful and that it’s essential to a patient and their family while dealing with cancer. Hope almost served as milestones through our experience – comforting us from one stage to the next. Almost as importantly, hope has been and continues to be essential to me as I move beyond my dad’s cancer experience.