A Mother and her Two Daughters

04 July 2010

Finding Hope to Help Us Get to the Other Side

On March 18, one month after my own diagnosis, my childhood friend Elizabeth received the grave news that cancer has invaded her own body with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Elizabeth is fighting the good fight, but is unfortunately not in the position to have anything “removed” like me since hers is a cancer of the blood cells that begins in the bone marrow.  Elizabeth is waiting for her next treatment, battling the perils of a low white blood cell count.  In her own online journal, she talks about my good news this week, and the good news of another woman she knows who has made it through her battle with ovarian cancer.  Elizabeth says in her journal, “So there is another example of hope that I too will make it to the "other side!'”  Elizabeth knows all about hope; she is an expert at it.  We continue to share our nuggets of hope as we take this unfortunate journey together. 

But her journal entry caused me to pause and think about “Hope” and “the other side”, especially for those with similar daunting challenges who are struggling to find a sliver of hope to get them through the day with a smile on their face. 

Hope . . . what is it really, and how do we find it?  Most people think of “Hope” as a wish or a sense of optimism . During times of struggle, Hope can become a belief in a positive outcome for one's life, a feeling that events will turn out for the best.  Whatever the definition, the Bible reminds us that a life without Hope loses its meaning. 

Amen!  As for me, I have learned to find hope in the daily musings of life and in the kindness of friends and strangers – the people and circumstances of life that have been around for my own existence, but definitely have taken on an entirely different perspective. 
  • Hope found in new memories created with Allyson and Anna-Lee – everyday happenings like running errands or cooking dinner together, playful shenanigans we would never share with others and special memories like college and high school graduations. 
  • Hope found with family who help me lovingly keep my life managed and moving forward with their extra hands, especially those days when energy is not on my side. 
  • Hope found in friends and neighbors who stop by for a visit, who wrap me in love and good wishes, but who also help me keep my sense of humor with funny jokes about my baldheaded condition, my many headdresses or my “FALL RISK” status.
  • Hope found in colleagues who continue to respect my mind and contributions, who keep me engaged in the challenge of work and community service.
  • Hope found spending the day in the kitchen cooking an elaborate meal, even when I have no appetite.  As one friend said, “You have cancer.  Why are you cooking for the rest of us?”  Well, when I feel like it, cooking makes me feel good. 
  • Hope found in looking through old photo albums, reconnecting with family and long-ago friends, listening to stories of times gone by.  
  • Hope found in friends who pray with me, or send a lovely card or letter, stop by with dinner or a delicious loaf of bread, who deliver anti-oxidant foods for my health, who sneak banana popsicles into the hospital, plant my garden, find hats and scarves to help me feel pretty, feed my birds, or crochet for me a beautiful patchwork blanket or knit a prayer shawl. 
  • Hope found in the physicians who are trained to care for my physical body, but who also feed my soul, give me a smile, share stories of survivors and encourage my spiritual battle. 
  • Hope found in God, who says to me and you, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” 

 A friend recently told me about her mother’s three-year battle with cancer.  What a challenging time this must be for her, and I’m hopeful that my own battle will not have such a long duration, or even longer.   But my friend is also concerned that her mother has quit living, has ceased to enjoy everyday life, instead spending her waking hours only focused on cancer.   I can understand that concern.  According to survival statistics, there are some cancers that provide very few rays of hope.  I remember my own doctor instructing me NOT to Google “Inflammatory Breast Cancer.”  She said, “you won’t find much good news on the Internet.”  A life focused on cancer might not look so hopeful. 

How people deal with life’s challenges are as unique as each one of us.  But for me, I think it’s healthy to keep living - to take a fast ride with a friend in their convertible, to pillage through the vegetables at the Farmer’s Market, to swim with no hair, to throw a dinner party or serve a meal at the local homeless shelter.  While some may call them distractions, I like to think of them as reminders that life is still good and moving ahead. 

So when the road to “the other side” seems frighteningly difficult and long, let’s all find hope by remembering that this road is plenty wide to have a cast of hundreds travel the distance with us.  Life shared with others has the remarkable ability to keep our spirits high, to give us a sense of purpose and hope for the good things that may come our way tomorrow.  And I’m certain that my own feelings of life and hope have likely attributed to my miraculous progress. 

Here’s to life, here's to Hope and here's to getting to "the other side." 


  1. This is great Stacy! Thank you for the kind words!!

  2. I love you Elizabeth! You will be on the other side too, very soon.

  3. Grace is insistent that she have a Stacy hat. She was fascinated by the "Stacy Hat" when we saw you at church so we will be shopping for a "Stacy Hat" on Wednesday.

    Your words of Hope are motivating for anybody to hear whether they are fighting a major battle or just trying to make it through the smaller hurdles of life. Thank you for being an inspiration to others.



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