7 Dec


It’s natural for people diagnosed with cancer (or their loved ones) to cling to hope during the treatment process.  After all, if you lose hope, you lose your will to survive.

Sometimes, though, hope can be a bad thing, such as when it’s accompanied by ostrich-heads-in-the-sand denial.  When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness, you must maintain hope that a cure can be found, but realism is also necessary.

When I first started going to my oncology appointments in the States, various people would accompany me to hear what the doctor had to say.  Unfortunately, sometimes they walked in with their rose-colored glasses on and completely misinterpreted what the doctors had to say.  Just as Simon and Garfunkel said, “Still a man hears what he wants to hear/And disregards the rest.”  That would lead to them telling other people that I was getting better even though the disease was only “stable” (and still terminal).  Then those people would post cheerful updates on Facebook about how well I was doing, which meant that I had to log on to Facebook and post a rebuttal, giving a more accurate assessment of the situation.

I suppose the over-optimism is a sort of defense mechanism for some people – it allows them to block out the seriousness of the immediate situation and keep trucking on in life.  But if you never come to terms with reality, it makes it that much harder to process the grief when a terminally ill loved one dies.


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