A person stands outside at night reaching to catch a shooting star

Hope

Early on during my cancer diagnosis and journey, I felt overwhelmed, angry, and worried. In addition, I was out of control and sad. When my second oncologist said my outlook for survival was “decades and decades”, I only heard a decade.

I wish I recognized hope early on. Once I accepted that I had cancer and chemotherapy began, I learned reasons to be hopeful.

What I have discovered

Cancer treatments can be successful as millions of people who have had cancer are alive today.

People with cancer can lead active lives. I was able to return to work as a nursing instructor after six months when my last chemotherapy was completed.

Your chances of living beyond cancer are now better than ever before. I was told early in my diagnosis by a very optimistic volunteer from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, that new treatments are in the pipeline.

I was so overwhelmed and pessimistic initially. I decided to start a memory box for my granddaughter. It included cards for all her life’s events that I expected to miss.

Some physicians believe that hope may help one’s body deal with cancer.

Strategies that helped me develop hope

Write down your hopeful feelings and share them with your family. I promised that if all went well with my chemotherapy, we would travel as a family on a cruise. We did and made terrific memories.

Try to keep a routine as before your diagnosis. Returning to work after chemotherapy helped me to focus on other things rather than having cancer.

Look for reasons to hope. I made a promise to never miss an opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter and son. I think hope comes from wanting to survive. The will to see them grow up, love them, and have them know me is my incentive to go on.

Make every day count and hold onto simple things that bring you joy. I found yoga and reflexology relaxing. Walking on the shore and listening to ocean waves brings me pleasure.

I found hope through my faith and spiritual beliefs which gave me comfort. When feeling better, I continued teaching religious instruction in our church.

At times, humor can help during this cancer journey. A thoughtful friend sent me a card with a smiling puppy. I would hold up the card when feeling fatigued and called it "puppy face."

My cancer has become my wake-up call. I have learned to enjoy the little things in life. Hope for the future has made me enjoy things as simple as walking outside the fresh air or listening to the birds. I wish I had known early on in this cancer journey that HOPE would make such a difference.

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