Nurturing Hope

Do you nurture the hope within you?  Or do you allow fears and worries to guide your actions and thoughts?  In 2012 I encourage you to nurture the positive inspiration and hope that can come from within the depths of your being to manifest in health and happiness.  Why am I thinking about this, you might ask?

Well, as a health care professional working with a large number of cancer patients I am often surprised to hear about patient experiences with family members and friends and even health professionals (often radiologists, oncologists and family practice medical doctors, but not limited to these), which are less than hope-inspiring.

I am aware that there is a fine line between healthy optimism about health care outcomes and offering false hope to patients, but if this line is so fine, why are people more comfortable in preparing themselves/friends/family or even their patients for worst-possible scenarios rather than the best-possible outcomes?

The mind-body connection in health has been demonstrated in so many of the patients I work with.  When there is despair or gloom, patients have difficulty in fighting off even the mildest of infections.  And when there is positivity and optimism, many patients overcome even the most chronic diseases. The term “overcoming” which can include everything from shrinking tumor sizes, to extending quantity of living years, to vastly improved energies and quality of life.  So why shouldn’t we encourage these sorts of outcomes with our own optimism?  Patients need encouragement to reach achievable goals.

I believe that each and every person should have some preparation for their own death.  This may include making a will, arranging  finances to ensure savings go to loved ones rather than to the government or to bill payments, or saying important and meaningful messages to our loved ones.  Often, however, it is the diagnosis of chronic illness that makes us think about these details.  But this should not become the focus of the patient or practitioner.  In doing this, one assumes that death is imminent.  I think death is eventual.  For all of us.  We know that this is the end that each of us will face one day.  If this encourages a person to truly live in each moment and appreciate the nuances of life, this is a wonderful thing.  If the awareness brings about a sense of hopelessness and desperation, this is not useful to the individual or for their loved ones.  I believe we all need to know that our lives aren’t forever.  But as long as we each have life, we should enjoy our families and/or friends and the beauty that surrounds us.  If any healthy person was caught up in gloom over his/her eventual death, we would be worried about depression leading to an earlier (possibly) self-fulfilling prophecy.  So why is it good to see someone with a chronic diagnosis in a hopeful state?  Symptoms can more easily be overcome and health can be more easily achieved with a positive and hopeful state of mind.  I have seen this time and again in my practice.

I am often reminded of the following poem that I read years ago when I face difficulties in either my own, my family/friends and even my patients’ lives.

When things go wrong as they often will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill.

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile but you have to sigh.

When life is getting you down a bit,

Rest if you must but don’t ever quit!

–Author Unknown

I hope this will encourage and inspire you to live in this moment.  Choose to be happy in the now and hopeful for a happy and healthy future.  There is always something good in the now – you just have to look for it and feel it.

Wishing you a happily hopeful and healthy year ahead!