Cancer Recovery 6

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” – Lin Yutang

This quote was in the Globe and Mail this morning, and it made me think of the cancer journey.

In 2008, my good friend Karen Da Silva launched a campaign to tell doctors about the importance of giving their patients “hope” rather than taking it away from them. In  2006 when Karen was told she she should go on vacation because she had 6 months to live, she felt hopeless and decided she wasn’t going to live out the time she had left without hope. She felt that “going on vacation” was a way of avoiding cancer and she chose to face it head on. Having a feeling of hope is a big part of how we live with cancer and it can make a difference in having a good day or a bad day, and even if we enjoy living at all.

In my conversations with Karen, we discussed the possibilities of life with or without hope. Karen wanted to live well in the time she had left and she felt it would not happen if she had no hope for today or tomorrow; so she set about developing an attitude of hope and as in the quote above, the road appeared.

Among other opportunities, Karen was asked to speak at a doctor’s convention and also recorded a video for the medical school at the University of British Columbia. My hope is that this video will make a difference in the way some doctors speak to their patients. A number of years ago, when Karen was told by a doctor that she would be treated as if she were in the group of patients who would recover, she felt inspired and mentally able to cope with her diagnosis. The faith inspired by the doctor’s language made a difference in the way Karen thought about her life with cancer.

With her belief in the power of hope, Karen made a difference to her own quality of life and managed to extend her life so she could enjoy more happy times with family and friends. We miss her.

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