What is Hope?

What is Hope?


Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of our patients and their families who felt as if hope was the only thing they had left. If you sit and ponder what the word Hope (in the noun sense) means, its hard to give an accurate definition. Hope can mean many things to many different people. Saying that, the lack of hope can be an entirely different and opposite definition.

I went online and found a few definitions of Hope. The following is what I found:

www.dictionary.com  “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.”

www.webster-dictionary.org  “A desire of some good, accompanied with an expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable; an expectation of something which is thought to be desirable; confidence; pleasing expectancy.”

www.thefreedictionary.com  “to wish for something with expectation of it’s fulfillment.”

www.cambrigedictionary.com  “something good that you want to happen in the future, or a confident feeling about what will happen in the future.”

What I have found with our cancer patients is that hope is like medicine itself. I am in no way speaking of false hope. False hope can be misconceived as a lie. What I am talking about is true hope. Please let me try to explain…

I will give you a story of a 59 year old man who was diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma of the hip. His cancer had spread to the bone and he was in terrible pain. He told the story of how he could not lie down in a bed to sleep at night so his wife propped him up standing in a corner of the room with a large lounge chair backed up to him. This way, with the back of the chair toward him, he could lean over the chair putting his upper body weight over the top of the chair which allowed him to get cat naps.

He and his wife came to our clinic stating that the doctor had told him to go home and get his things in order for there was no hope and there was nothing anyone could do. He was not ready to die or give up at that time. He asked his doctor, “well what about that New Hope clinic that’s in town?” Of course, not knowing about us or what we did, his doctors words were, “ Oh they will only take your money. Just go fishing and enjoy what life you have left.”

This man was looking for hope! He came to us and we had to explain to him that we would do our very best but we could not make promises. Our doctors explained the severity of his problem and the likely hood that we may not be of much help. He asked that we would not give up and at least try. All the other doctors had given up and he felt abandoned.

I feel that because he had such great hope and satisfaction that someone didn’t give up on him is the major reason he went into remission.

No matter how you define hope, I feel that it is a part of medicine that needs to be used more. I feel that if the doctors truly feel there is nothing more they can do, do not take away a person’s will to live. Simply say, Mr ___, there is nothing more I nor my associates can do, but I will support you in any other ventures as long as it is safe.

I encourage all doctors that before you confront your patient that is still lucid and of good sound mind, have compassion. Put yourself in their place. Please do some homework and speak to a few alternative doctors about what their treatments involve. You could become your patient’s hero just by giving them a little hope instead of such a major death sentence and taking the breath away from them. This is my opinion of what true love and health care is about.


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