Finding hope for the future when you’re facing a terminal diagnosis, such as mesothelioma, is challenging for some people and natural for others.
Some people seem to possess boundless hope that penetrates every aspect of their life and being. They appear as naturally hopeful people. When they get diagnosed with cancer, they hope for the best and use that hope as fuel to move forward.
Other people take a more calculated approach to hope that considers all possible outcomes, including the best and the worst. When they get diagnosed with cancer, they often experience a tempered sense of hope.
Positives and negatives are inherent in both of these approaches to hope. Understanding what hope is and how it affects your state of mind can help cancer patients define what hope means to them and their families.
What Exactly Is Hope?
The prevailing definition of hope among the medical community originated in a 1985 issue of the medical journal Nursing Clinics of North America: “Hope is a confident yet uncertain expectation of achieving a future good, which according to the hoping person is realistically possible and personally significant.”
This realistic definition of hope does not encompass the kind of magical hope cancer patients are commonly encouraged to find.
“Hope for the best!” is a phrase people with cancer often hear from family and friends.
Is the best possible outcome — a cure — realistic for every cancer patient to hope for? Could strongly hoping for a cure lead some people to a sort of blind optimism that distorts reality and delays preparation for all possible outcomes?
Dr. Jerome Groopman, chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chair of medicine at Harvard Medical School, believes there is a middle ground.
“Somewhere lies the middle ground, upon which an understanding of the most likely outcomes is balanced by the opportunity to hope for a successful treatment, and the courage to endure the side effects that will be an inherent part of this treatment,” Groopman said in his New York Times bestseller, “The Anatomy of Hope.”