Living with cancer blog

Workshop drives hope for future of cancer treatment, care

By Lonnie Fynskov, R.N. December 2, 2016

"It gave me hope again, for both myself and future generations." This comment reflects the thoughts expressed by many at the "Empowered to Live Well" Patient and Family Cancer Education Symposium on Nov. 5th at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Speakers addressed topics that spanned the spectrum from individualized medicine and genomics to mandalas and forgiveness. Some sessions focused on the biology of cancer treatment, while others dealt with managing symptoms and complementary therapies.

The day was filled with a blend of information designed to have something that would touch everyone. Inspiring hope seems to be the most significant result. Many said they felt energized and truly hopeful for the future of cancer treatment and care.

I thought about that recently as I listened to a man tell his diagnosis story. He shared what it had been like hearing a physician tell him that he probably would only survive 3-6 months. It has now been 3 years since that conversation occurred. Not only was he shocked by the diagnosis, but angry and scared by the poor prognosis he had been given. His hope had been taken away. This was not the first time I had heard a story like this. Maybe some of you have also had a hope-crushing experience.

I don't want to think about living without hope. As the man I mentioned earlier said, "No one has a crystal ball into the future so I'm going to continue to choose my attitude each day."

Some people have shared that the only thing that kept them going every day, whether that meant going to treatment, getting out of bed in the morning, or holding their tongue when angry, was hope.

Sometimes hope is tied to a freedom from cancer and other times that isn't realistic. There may come a time in life when hope is not tied to a cure but rather to pain-free, quality time spent in ways that continue to provide meaning and joy.

My mom used to jokingly say, "Hope springs eternal." As a child that usually meant I was never going to give up on those things that were important to me. As an adult, I hope that saying is true and we never outlive a realistic hope for whatever's important to us.

But even hope needs encouragement during challenging times. Symposiums like this can provide a look at the research and new knowledge that allows us to hope for a better future related to cancer. Where have you found your strength to continue to hope in those things that are important to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lonnie J. Fynskov, R.N.

Dec. 02, 2016