Posts Tagged ‘loss of control with cancer’

Hope: The Miracle Medicine

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

Hope, it gives us the opportunity to do what we must do to heal from our cancer. Hope is the miracle medicine of the mind.  It inspires the will to live.  Hope is the physician’s strongest ally. Hope is our strongest ally.  A physician is in a powerful position to influence the outcome of disease.  Even in the face of the most advanced of cancers, there is usually room for some words of encouragement and support, which can make all the difference in the patient’s attitude towards their disease and their treatment.  Yet, physicians don’t always offer hope.  Many patients are told to go home and get their affairs in order, there is nothing we can do, or deliver a grim prognosis. Many hear these words upon their initial diagnosis, as the cancer has already progressed.

Martin Seligman has a term he coined “learned helplessness.”  While the concept is strongly tied to animal psychology and behavior, it can also apply to the cancer patient. You have cancer–three of the most dreaded words you can hear from your doctor. Your world has changed and you feel a loss of control.  Many of us immediately imagine the worst-case scenario—death.   A moment ago you were a student, parent, wife, maybe even a doctor. Now, suddenly, you are a patient, facing mortality.  If we believe that there is no hope and that we have no control over our situation, we may begin to behave in a helpless manner; we may feel utterly helpless to think clearly and make informed choices. People start telling us what to do and this further relinquishes our much needed control.  However, those entering the world of cancer must take control of their treatment—they need to remain in charge of their health.  They need hope.

hydranges but redoHope, it brings life to survival.  Cancer develops for a reason; it doesn’t just happen.  To successfully treat cancer we need to change the environment in which it was permitted to develop and grow.  The lack of hope may dissolve our will to address our emotional stressors and make the lifestyle changes which may enhance our treatment and improve survival.

Putting hope in the proper context is important, and false hope is not always beneficial. However, there are countless stories of patients who were offered little chance of survival or a cure, yet who are here years later to tell their tale, so “false hopelessness” (coined by Dr Keith Block) is clearly not beneficial either.  We hear of “unexpected remissions”, a term doctors use when, by medical standards, the patient should have died, but instead, patients denied death its victim by seeking alternative treatments and healing from their cancer.

Early state or late stage— Hope, it gives us the opportunity to do what we must do to heal from our cancer. No matter what path we choose for our healing, hope shall be ever present, for even if we cannot hope for a cure, we can hope for peace, comfort and relief from pain as we live each day we are given. We can hope for a long life, living with our cancer. We can focus on living, not dying. While there is hope there is life.

“While there is life there is hope, has deeper meaning in reverse. While there is hope there is life. Hope comes first, life follows. Hope gives power to life. Hope rouses life to continue to expand, to grow, to reach out, to go on. Hope sees a light where there isn’t any. Hope lights candles in millions of despairing hearts. Where would I be without hope?” Wilfred A Peterson May 1933

This article was originally printed in my Options for Life column in the Spring 2013 edition of Natural Healing Natural Wellness. 


~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project.  Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.com/about/

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