Most people have never thought much about hope. They may think hope is the same as wishing or optimism, or they may assume everyone hopes the same way they do and that it means the same thing. In actuality, hope is a complex emotion, and how people learn to hope and the meaning and importance of hope varies from person to person and from family to family.
So, what does this have to do with cancer? A lot.
A diagnosis of cancer affects so many people. Not only those with the cells gone wrong, but family members, friends, co-workers. Along with the diagnosis come choices. We can choose to give in or to fight with all we have. But, no matter what we choose, there is always one constant: hope. Hope that we won’t feel pain, hope that our loved ones will be taken care of if something happens, hope that our doctors are given the knowledge to treat us the way we need to be treated, hope for a cure.
There’s hope from the American Cancer Society. A new report published in early January states that U.S. cancer deaths have declined continuously for the last quarter of a century. That’s a huge milestone in the fight against cancer. That sure gives me hope. The ACS states the two-and-a-half-decade decline is mostly due to reductions in smoking (which increases the risk of a number of cancers, particularly lung cancer), as well as advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer.
There’s hope in new technology with the ability to detect cancer early enough that we can treat more efficiently. Here at Mercy Cancer Center, we are able to offer people LDCT lung screenings to detect early lung cancer in those patients at high risk. Yearly skin and oral screenings offered by the hospital are able to detect areas of need. Our comprehensive Breast center has new procedures in place to get patients established with a surgeon as soon as an abnormal mammogram is found. All ways to help get the community the treatment they need at the earliest possible moments.
There’s hope in new treatments. Our doctors and nurses are continuously learning and researching and learning from each other during weekly Tumor boards and quarterly CME classes.
There’s even hope when treatment is not an option. The choice of Hospice provides the person with the hope that death will come with dignity and grace. And without pain.
Hope is a word that holds a variety of meanings, depending on the person using it and the context in which it is being used. However, the one thing synonymous with hope is that it is absolutely necessary at the individual, community, and global levels.
Above all else, even when the choice is not clear, always choose hope.
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