Hope Is the Key to Successful Cancer Treatment
No matter where you are in cancer treatment or what your prognosis, hope is an important part of your treatment success. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you hope for a cure — although many people, especially among those whose cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, hope for exactly that. People who have survived cancer hope that their cancer won’t return. And even those for whom a cure isn’t likely have hope, too — they hope to spend time with loved ones and friends, go on an anticipated vacation, attend a school reunion, maintain their quality of life, and keep cancer from progressing.
Why Hope Is Important
Having hope in the face of cancer treatment can help you feel better about where you are in life, but that’s not the only reason it’s important. Feelings of hope — whether they’re for a cure or for other realistic goals — can help you to better come to terms with your cancer diagnosis and what it means for your future, but they can also boost your overall pain tolerance and improve your quality of life. Cancer patients who are hopeful are more psychologically resilient, and benefit from better self-esteem.
Cultivating Hope During Cancer Treatment
You might think of hope as something that just happens to you, but in fact, hope is something you can nurture through your actions. Cultivating hope in the midst of adversity requires four steps:
- Sizing up the situation
- Thinking about it
- Making new goals
- Putting the situation in a new context
Cultivating hope isn’t just something you do by yourself, however. The others in your life can bolster — or tear down — your feelings of hope. Friends, loved ones, and members of your treatment team can help you stay hopeful during treatment. Reach out to coworkers, family members, friends, fellow worshippers at church, and members of your treatment team for support, encouragement, and compassion. It could make a big difference.
Your sense of control over your illness and your own sense of determination to meet your personal goals can also influence your ability to feel hope. But without hope, you’ll suffer from feelings of emotional and psychological distress and fear; hopelessness could even cause your health to suffer and impair your cancer treatment.
If your cancer was diagnosed at an early stage and you hope for a cure, then reading testimonials from cancer survivors can help you nurture your feelings of hope. Even if your prognosis is less encouraging, you can begin to find hope by adapting to your diagnosis. Cancer is not your whole life; keep the bigger picture in mind. Focus on what’s important to you – family, traveling, or hobbies, for example. Doing your best to maintain a normal routine can help.
Many cancer patients maintain their sense of hope by avoiding any negative thoughts or information that could discourage them. Taking steps to actively avoid statistics about your specific type of cancer, or your prognosis, isn’t denial as long as you accept the reality of your diagnosis. Instead, it can be an important part of maintaining your sense of optimism and mental health.
While it might seem difficult to cultivate hope in the face of a cancer diagnosis, doing so can improve your treatment outcomes and your quality of life. Don’t let your cancer diagnosis distract you from the things that matter.