Did you know that based on population data, I only have a 20% chance of being alive this time next year?
The odds are long, but then they always have been, and so far, I sit way out on the bell shaped curve, probably 2-3 standard deviations out, in terms of my survival. But when you are confronted with a statistic like that, how should we respond?
Do we give up hope, wait for the inevitable?
Do we plan for the inevitable and go sit on a beach somewhere?
Or do we just ignore that statistic and pretend it doesn’t exist?
Many people try to sell me hope on this journey, and the sales pitch comes in many forms which can probably be put into two broad categories. First, is the alternative medicine category; “I have the cure for you”; “you should try this diet”; “I know someone in India who can cure you” characterizes this response. This versions of hope is sold to me on the premise that there is an undiscovered cure for cancer that people know about, but the medical establishment has turned a blind eye to. The second category is more a faith based one. It is often characterized by comments like “Claim the healing and God will heal you”; “if you have faith, God will heal you”; and sometimes, just as “God will heal you”.
“I think hope is sometimes a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. We live in hope for one thing because the reality of the alternative scares us too much. In actual fact we are living in fear… or denial.”
This was a Facebook status I mused upon recently and the premise for the third response. What I have discovered is that there are in fact two types of hope. The first of which is characterized by the kind of blind faith that is often sold in the above formats, be that a faith in alternative treatments or a faith in God. This kind of hope has grandiose promises of a life free of suffering. These promises seem to offer a freedom from the life we may think we are stuck with, and a future fantasy that often really only serves as a form of escapism. At the heart of this kind of hope though, is the fear of our reality. Its a belief in the possible because the probable is too hard.
Its thinking we live in hope, but actually living in fear…
It’s a form of denial…
Which is why very often this kind of hope will collapse in the face of suffering, cause disillusionment, and become its antithesis, hopelessness.
This begs the question, what IS hope?
For me, hope is found by acknowledging my reality. It’s embracing the fact that I only have a 20% likelihood of being alive in a year, and knowing that my future will have suffering. It is taking my fears, my anxiety, and the life I find myself in and giving it over to something greater. When I submit my fears, I relinquish the control I try to have over them and I am stripped back to the absolute core of who I am. In the process of that submission hope is birthed…
Acknowledging, and then submitting my reality to God, is the only place I have found hope. Hope that energizes me, hope that motivates me, and hope that what I do in this life, is working towards something far greater than I could ever imagine.
It is by knowing my reality, rather than ignoring it, that the seed of hope grows…
And true hope has powers far greater than fear…. It even conquers death.
I am at peace with my diagnosis and prognosis, yet I have hope. The hope is not necessarily in a cure, or in healing, it’s an intangible hope that permeates everything I touch and every day that I am alive. It’s a hope that is beyond the natural, that is Christ fueled, and allows me to live the life I was meant to, even if it wasn’t the life I had planned.
When hope is born from suffering rather than fear, that is when it becomes real.
Thanks for listening.
Yet another notch to put in my belt. The routine of chemotherapy is well understood and generally well tolerated now. Come December, it will be 2 years of this fortnightly regime. That is 2 years of life where every second weekend is spent nauseous, hunched over a toilet bowel, or sleeping in bed to get through the misery.
This round seemed a bit rougher than previous rounds, the nausea just that little bit more ever-present, and my insomnia particularly good at keeping me awake despite the pharmaceutical augmentation. The silver lining to this round is that I am skipping the next one!!!
In making sure my priorities are straight, I have tickets to the semi-final (which all going well will be NZ v. SA or AUS) for the rugby world cup. Rugby beats chemo on any weekend, so I get a 4 week reprieve.
I’m only 2 rounds short of 40 total… I keep smashing records.
Till next time…