By Jennifer Lycette, MD, oncologist
What is hope? That’s a deceptively simple question.
As a medical oncologist (a doctor of cancer medicine) in community practice for over a decade, discussions of hope are a part of my every day. I have learned and experienced that hope means different things to different people.
Hope comes from within, not from without. I cannot give hope to another human being, but I can help my patients figure out what their own vision of hope might be.
It is an eternally gratifying part of my vocation that hope for a cure is becoming more and more an actuality. My hope is that one day this will be the case with every one of my patients.
But in the cases where it is not, it does not mean there is no hope to be had. Quite the opposite. Some cancers may not be cured but can be controlled—just like other chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. My hope is that I can help my patients understand that they can continue to live their normal lives—that they can live with cancer and have a good quality of life.
And for the times when cancer is more advanced, my hope is to be forthright and truthful but to never take away hope. For deep inner hope is not dependent on prognosis. The writer Václav Havel described hope as an orientation of the spirit and the heart, as coming from within—a state of mind—not originating in the outside world.
My HOPE is that there can be a wider understanding that hospice services exist in order for our patients to keep their quality of life and dignity at the end of life. Hospice is not “giving up,” because hospice could not exist without hope. Without hope, there would be no quality. Without quality, there would be no dignity.
My HOPE is that no matter at what stage a cancer is diagnosed, our patients will know they have a comprehensive cancer care team by their side from day one of their journey.
My HOPE is to continue to bring world-class cancer care to the Columbia coast communities, with the collaboration between CMH and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
My HOPE is that we can prevent more cancers from happening in the first place by eliminating risk factors such as tobacco and obesity.
My HOPE is that you tell me your hope for your journey. And that we go forth together.
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