A new friend recently told me that my own story I published on my web site may help people in their physical battle with appendiceal cancer as much as their medical treatment, because my story offers hope. That maybe knowing there is a long-term survivor might provide a certain amount of healing in itself.
Especially after I was diagnosed with cancer, hope became my golden word. I recently read this quote: “There is no worse death than the end of hope.” ~ Pelagius.
I am Christian, and everyone quotes the passages in I Corinthians 13 about love, but the Bible speaks of three great virtues; faith, hope and love. Love may be the greatest, but hope is not an insignificant virtue. I love the word hope.
I will never know why I have survived what I was once told was a terminal illness as long as I have. But in contemplating hope, I was recently recalling all of the tidbits of hope I clung to after I was diagnosed.
I found medical statistics that said 10% of those with signet ring appendiceal cancer survive…someone had to be in the 10%, why not me?
I clung closely to the knowledge that I was on international prayer chains. Many people were praying for me, and though I knew God often answered “no” to prayers for healing, I hoped I might get a “yes”. I read the book someone gave me “The Healing Power of the Christian Mind” before CT scans.
I had great medical care, that gave me hope. My surgeon knew the statistics for my particular cancer were dismal, but he never talked about that; instead he told me after my surgery when I insisted on dressing in street clothes and only going to bed to sleep that I was a very strong person, and if anyone could survive, I had a good chance. I clung to his words.
A chemo nurse I had once told me, “Oh, you’ll be fine, you’ll make it”. That blew me away, she was a cancer nurse who knew my odds, and she knew I was a nurse, but she seemed so sure I’d be the one to survive. Maybe she had a way of knowing who would survive, a kind of sixth sense. I trusted a nurse’s gut feelings as my own had always been right, so that gave me incredible hope.
I read stories and articles about those who had defied their odds of dying of cancer. Of those who had had miraculous healings. Why not me?
I read about mind-body medicine, I listened to tapes about quantum healing, I tried visualization in hopes I could make my immune system destroy stray cancer cells.
Anything…..I clung to anything that gave me a tiny bit of hope of staying alive to raise my kids. I kept a written journal of reasons why I might hope to survive and read it whenever I got discouraged.
But in the end I have learned and have come to accept that there is a greater hope. Because of my involvement in the cancer community and with hospice, I have come to accept that none of us get out of this life alive……at least not in this body. I had to contemplate that a lot. Cancer survival is just a little more time in this temporary here and now.
I have a very great belief in an afterlife now, a heaven. To me it is a reality. I have talked to people who have had near death experiences and who cried for days when they came back and left what they knew to be their “real” home. I’ve talked with patients who have seen before death their loved ones who went before them coming to take them home. A little boy in my church, just before he died of brain cancer was winessed having a cheerful and animated conversation with someone no one else could see, he also then excitedly pointed to a corner of the house where he said he saw his dog, he said his dog was back (his dog had died several months before). I’ve read several books that have inspired me to think beyond this life, “In Light of Eternity” and “Heaven” are two.
Today I will go to the wake of another cancer patient who was a friend. A recurrence of her cancer came on fast and furious. Just 6 months ago we were working together, she had just attended her daughter’s wedding, she was fine. She had hoped to stay alive…..but I know she is still alive, and she is free and no longer suffering. She is home.
I’m so glad my hope now isn’t just for life in this realm. I’m so glad my hope now extends beyond this life, that hope for me is now bigger and encompasses more….so much more.
I am never without hope.