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“HOPE” – The Straw That Stirs the Drink

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hope is an interesting fella’, isn’t he?

I’ve found him to be a very elusive at different times in my life – he can give with one hand – and take away with the other. Sometimes he can be with us in one breath – and then gone in the next.

It seems we are always chasing him down throughout our lives…this makes sense to me as I’ve come to understand that Hope is the cornerstone of our foundations – it is the building block that we construct our lives upon.

And when we lose Hope – we lose part of ourselves.

And when Hope is gone – we are gone – because Hope equals Life, and without it present inside the fabric of our being – we cease to live – and shift to existence – which is Life minus Hope.

It’s not always easy to just put Hope back in one’s life – it’s not like a light switch that you can turn on and off on a whim or because you demand it to be so. It’s not something that can just magically be there again, because someone told you that it should be.

That’s because Hope – much like Life – is a constantly moving target and as such, it’s hard to pinpoint with any real accuracy. We can aim for it, but we’re blind to what the target is supposed to look like.

“What is Hope supposed to look like?”

Good question – I don’t think it takes on the form of a physical shape in our lives. I don’t think that Hope can really be seen.

“How do you see it then – what’s your definition of Hope?”

I see Hope as something that we cannot see – instead, it is that intangible human element that only we can feel.

We “feel” Hope don’t we?

We can only see it after we have felt it – that’s how we know when we’ve found it. When you feel your spirit lifting and your backbone straightening – those are feelings of Hope, aren’t they?

Hope is that pride swelling in your chest – the feeling that you’re heart is gonna’ burst – that innate human need to climb onto the nearest rooftop and shout something to the world that you’re gonna’ be okay…or that you at least think it will be okay again…

See, that’s "The Feeling of Hope."

And it’s overwhelming as the sensation roars through your veins with the thunderous noise of stampeding buffaloes across the Great Plains.

It’s a part of the emotional equation that we all need to have in our cancer fights – but aside from that – we need to have that feeling at different times in all aspect of our lives in order to make it to the next stop – with or without cancer.

For hope itself is found through every crevice of our lives – it nestles itself in our subconscious during our waking and slumbering hours – it nurtures and talks to us in our dreams as well as our nightmares - and it manifests itself and takes on the shape of the person who holds it.

Once we feel Hope – then we can see Hope.

The vision through our eyes then are nothing more than the confirmation from what we are feeling at that moment – that Moment of Hope that we are experiencing for that time frame in our life.

But, make no mistake – Hope can be a fleeting sensation as well – one second we are holding onto and then the Winds of Change blow it right out of our hands - and our hearts quickly follow suit.

We are then left with Fear, Fright, Uncertainty, Apprehension and a big dose of The Unknown.

When Hope slips out under the fence – he can be long gone before you recognized that he had even left. And as I mentioned, he is sometimes hard to find again – but try and find him we must.

We can’t go crazy searching – some things in Life just come to us when they were meant to – when they are needed the most – when we are down to our last flicker….

I’ve found that all we can really do for Hope – is to leave the light on for him – for surely, he will return to us and by leaving the path lit – we show him the way back to us.

One last thing I can tell you as a veteran fighter who has many tours of duty under his belt…

Hope is an emotion – and as such, it burns like a brightly lit candle burning at both ends…it shines bright – but not for very long. I see it as an instrumental piece of our armament that we use, when we use EMOTION as part of our battle strategy.

Cancer is a long, hard battle that can go on endlessly for years….for that very reason, Emotional fighting will inevitably fail us, if that’s solely what we’re relying on.

Here’s an analogy. You know how at the beginning of a sporting event, how the teams are huddled up, jumping up and down and pumping themselves up before they go play?

They are all fired up – they hit the field and get their *** whipped by the other side, because the other side did not let their emotions overrule the discipline they needed to keep a level head.

Emotion runs like that with cancer. Now, I absolutely feel that we have to “Use and Harness” certain emotional moments in our fights and our lives to get us through – there’s no mistaking that. It’s critical and essential to our well beings to tap into those moments and ride those waves to the shoreline.

But, we can’t solely rely on our emotions – you have to treat cancer like a business and for the most part, keep the emotions in check – until it’s time to tap into them and draw from the well what you need at that precise time.

This helps prevent the tremendous Hi’s and Lo’s that we all experience in life as well as cancer.

There are always going to be those times when we draw our swords and yell “Charge” as we race out onto the battlefield full speed into the foray ready to embrace the challenge that is also charging full speed against us.

But, we must use Logic, Time and Patience into this equation as well….these are the great equalizers and are the weapons of choice when we are fighting “The Long Haul.”

They will be what sustain our daily fights in life – and Hope and our emotions are the gunpowder we use to ignite that special weapon that each one of us possesses inside us that can take us to heights that we need to climb – at the time that we need to do it.

Now, you know I like to “Huck and Shuck” and puff and bluster a lot of times when I talk…I build myself up so I can tear it down and get to what’s real. During my time, I’ve talked openly and honestly about many things – on many different topics. I talked about whatever I was feeling.

I’ve talked about Hope, Courage, Strength, Tenacity, Perseverance, Trust Honor, Integrity, Character…I’ve also talked about Depression, Loneliness, Hopelessness, Helplessness, and Despair…

And most importantly, I’ve talked about my own frailties, fallibilities, and human weaknesses – and how I’ve dealt with them and overcome them.

This is a topic where my dad disagreed with me…it was one of the last real discussions that we had at the end of last year, before he turned ill and passed away this year.

He told me that I was “not smart” for doing what I was doing….for telling everyone on this board how weak that I was and the struggles I was enduring. He said people will not think too much about you.

He told me I was wrong.

I disagreed with him then – and I disagree now.

I told him that I thought my story lended some credibility and validity to the things I was talking about. We respond to the Underdog - we like stories of tragedy and then triumph...we get Hope from that....and I thought that at times, I was able to provide some folks with a glimmer of Hope that would reflect themselves when they read some of what I had written.

All I’ve ever done is show the “Vulnerability and Insecurity” that has been inside me at times – which is the same feeling that you have been feeling; only I committed it to words on a page.

“Embracing the Vulnerability” is what I’ve learned in this life – that’s where it’s at - that’s what connects you to people – that’s what makes them feel – that’s what makes them think – that’s what makes us care.

For, we see a part of ourselves through someone else’s eyes – and it’s then that we realize that we aren’t unique – rather, we are all bonded along the same seams as the next person. And that’s always important for someone else to realize – that feeling that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings.

I know that I had lost Hope these past six-months - “Life Got in the Way.”

And I found myself existing – I found myself back in the clutches of what I like to call “The Living Depression.” This differs greatly from clinical depression. I was going through the motions of life, but there was no joy – no hope – no satisfaction – no matter which way I turned.

Of course, dad played a big role in this and the way that he constructed his life, acted as huge black hole that swallowed our very existence and our lives just became his. I’ve handled a lot of adversity in my life – but this one was just about the nail in the coffin for me.

In addition, I had started feeling irrelevant on this board and that my time had come. With the recent influx of new members, I began to tell myself that none of the new folks would be interested in what this cancer dinosaur had to say anymore – the window had closed and perhaps it had finally come time for me to make a graceful exit, while I still had my dignity intact.

It was just a combination of things and many factors that came together at the right time that sucked Hope right up through the roof – like the vortex of a tornado. It was the convergence of all these events at just the right time…"The Perfect Storm."

And then…..

I began to get some correspondence from some members – and they were letting me know that they needed help – and their words helped to ease my transition back into the mainstream and get me heading back towards the other direction that I was led astray from during the recent storm in my life.

Along the way, I discovered Hope again for myself and my future – and for that of others and their futures as well.

Recently, I was talking with my wife about a “2nd Chance” at life after we settle all of the estate business and if my health continues to hold out. It was here that I once again felt the “Rumblings of Hope” trying to come to life in my soul once more.

It was like going out to pull-start your mower after a long winter season of non-use. With each pull, I could feel a little bit more as I cranked the cord – but we’ve still not got the engine started yet.

But, I ‘feel’ like we can get it started one more time if we just keep going and things hold together – and therein lays the key – for me – and for you.

“I Feel Again - and Now I Can See Again.”

And now that my vision is slowly clearing – I can see direction once more over the horizon – and with direction, I can see purpose – and with purpose – I can see a chance – and a chance is all that any of us can ever ask for, isn’t it?

“Got Hope?”

I’ll let you know after Thanksgiving when we scan again:)

-Craig

LivinginNH's picture
LivinginNH
Posts: 1458
Joined: Apr 2010

That was beautiful Craig. You have that special gift for writing what we all feel with such clarity of thought. I'm going to print this out and pin it to the wall at my desk to remind me that I should never lose Hope.

Luv ya,

Cyn

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 3332
Joined: Jan 2010

I hope that you have now realized that your posts regarding your fight against cancer and life's complications are exactly what every new person who comes here needs to read.

Foremost is your longevity. It helps them find 'hope' again after hearing their diagnosis.
It tells them that it is possible to go on.

I also hope that you have realized that it is your willingness to share the moments of weakness and dispair that make you human to all of us. It reminds us that what we feel is "ok" and that we can come through it.

By sharing the highs and lows you become a real person on the page, not just words.

You have Billions of words left to write and I hope that you will continue to share them here, for many more years, with all who come looking for that flicker of hope that they too can live.

You have the biggest heart in Texas!

Hugs and love,

Marie who loves kitties

jjaj133's picture
jjaj133
Posts: 869
Joined: Mar 2011

Dearest Craig, I Hope you never stop writing, never stop sharing & and never have another bad test result.
Hugs,
Judy

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2011

I was really in a sorry place when I came back here in April or May..
Having read your posts and those of others, I came to realize I have a long journey stil ahead of me.. so you have provided me HOPE..
Thanks,
Donna

Minnesotagirl
Posts: 141
Joined: Sep 2011

I love your post...can't say anymore. Keep on sharing and writing for all of us who follow your personal journey. Blessings to you friend.

"Minnesotagirl"

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

HOPE is such a fragile eco-system...I wanted to add these last two thoughts while they were still burning hot.

They are the last two lines of my book and in case those pages never make it to the light, I wanted you to have this pinned close to your heart somewhere, so you can get at it if you ever find yourself needing to...they are two of my favorite lines ever...

They represent the two hemispheres of our world and help to further define the real meaning of what Hope really stands for - and the ideology, along with the possibilities that it can hold for each one of us...

With HOPE...

"Sometimes, the sunshine that we've been waiting for - will turn to rain."

"But, from the ashes - we can build another day."

-Craig

janie1
Posts: 753
Joined: Apr 2011

Welcome back, and here's to Hope (I'm raising my glass of unsweet tea while I'm munching on Thursday nite - $1.25 tacos )
Not much interrupts taco nite.....except what Sundanceh has to say !! :))

danker
Posts: 1191
Joined: Apr 2012

I think we are all here to give each other hope. Or to get some if we need it! Most of us don;t do it as well as you. THANK YOU

smokeyjoe
Posts: 1428
Joined: Feb 2011

Sweetheart, I loved reading this :)

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

As usual, you've written a piece that is lovely and thought-provoking. We all need hope in our lives, or we just won't make it. Not just physically, but emotionally. If you lose hope, you have nothing.

I'm glad there's hope in your life, and I pray there always will be. And I love your vulnerability!

*hugs*
Gail

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Craig,
You're brilliant! Honestly, when I read your words I am just in awe. You have an amazing way of describing life and this journey. Thank you for sharing. With all respect for your father, I have to agree with you. Your sharing has given hope to so many of us.

Mahalo <3

Aloha,
Kathleen

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 682
Joined: Jul 2011

Thank you. You make many of the rest of us feel less unsure. We know all of the aforementioned entities... Anxiety, fear, hopelessness, depression, loneliness, hopelessness and then HOPE. Thanking you for putting us (me) into words. Lorie

steved
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

for your eloquence and reminders. It is indeed a long journey and without hope it is a lonely one. I have my own feelings about hope and how it needs to be 'accurate' as have seen inaccurate hope lead to despair but will save those thoughts for another day.

Today I simply wished to say thanks.

steve

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I look forward to those thoughts - and hopefully will have something to add/or share.

I know you are leading into the talk about "False Hope."

I believe you when you tell me that inaccurate hope can lead to despair...the only thing I know about this...is that yes, that can be true. But, perhaps for that one person, that tiny knot on the Hope Rope that they are holding onto - is all that separates them from the Living - or the Living Dead.

It is a fascinating subject and I will enjoy reading your thoughts on this. For today, Steve...just hang in there, man...I can't pretend to imagine what you are feeling...you're probably much stronger than I would be if I were facing this.

Life is Chance - Hope is Life - and I 'hope' you get your 'chance'

:)

-Craig

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

hi craig,

hope is everywhere i turn, sometimes i just have to open my eyes and to see it.
your post reminded me of how luck i am.

hugs,
pete

Vickilg's picture
Vickilg
Posts: 281
Joined: Jan 2011

Your words and thoughts are so beautiful. Your wisdom is very much needed on this site. I need you! Do me a favor... Book a cruise for you and your wife to enjoy. You deserve it! Big hug my friend!

janderson1964
Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

Absolutely awesome writing Craig. All of your writing is a real treat for me to read. You are right for writing about your frailties. Your fathef was wrong. I think that is a sign of stength and it helps others here including me. Your are not a dinosaur to this forum. The newcomers need the hope of long term survivors. I feel us long term survivors are here for that reason. To offer hope and advice through our many years of experience.

I am not going anywhere and i am counting on you to stick around and always be one year ahead of me in this seemingly endless war.

Erinb
Posts: 295
Joined: Apr 2010

Thanks for your story...for giving the readers HOPE.
Erin

Phil64's picture
Phil64
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2012

Craig, Thank you for sharing your talent with us. You capture in words the feelings that we are all feeling. And you inspire me to try to do the same. I can talk about feeling confident and determined and being persistent. But I surely have felt the downside of fighting cancer. Every now and then, usually when I am alone, I feel hope slipping away and wonder if I can really beat this cancer. And I need to share this vulnerability with others as well... They need to know that I work hard to maintain a positive outlook but sometimes I stumble in this effort.

God Bless you Craig,

Never stop writing.

Love and Light to all.

Phil

relaxoutdoors08
Posts: 520
Joined: May 2011

Craig,
Glad you are back and doing what you do best. I had to bookmark this post on Hope. Living life scan to scan.
NB

steved
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

I said I would write my own opinions about the double edged sword that I see hope can play. For many of us here we face a fairly daunting future and hope helps us do that. However, I have found personally, and in others I know, that hope can hold back people in the process of coming to terms with their position. A lot is written about grieving processes and the stages people pass through in grief. It has a lot of relevance to our journey as in truth we have faced a similar loss of our old selves and go through similar stages in coming to terms with that. Ultimately we try to find an acceptance of our position that allows us to live comfortably with it and it is through acceptance that we can focus on quality of life, eeking pleasure out of every moment and appreciating the time we are given.

Hope is important in sustaining us through some of the difficult feelings we face as we move towards acceptance- it keeps us going when we feel low and despondent and stops us getting stuck in coping strategies that can be counter productive such as excessive denial of our problems. However, as we move towards accepting what we face, inaccurate hope- that which is unrealistic or based in denial of what is really happening- can prevent us from really accepting our position and feeling comfortable in that acceptance. An example is those of us who are stage 4 holding to innacurate hopes that chemo may cure us when in truth this is an uncommon outcome and, whilst it can't be denied it happens, the hope of it happening to us needs to be proportionate to the likelihood.

I don't wish to be negative in what I say, nor rob people of their hope, as I acknowledge the huge role hope has in sustaining us all. I also accept that this is simply an opinion that others may not agree with. However, I would emphasise that, having travelled this road for many years now, we need to direct our energies in the most healthy way we can in this journey and accepting what we realistically face and balancing that out with accurate hopes is where I think that this path ultimately leads.

steve

janderson1964
Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

Every day that we wake up there should be a new sense of hope just for making it through another day and a day closer to that next treatment or proceedure being developed/approved that could change our whole outcome. I agree that hope has to be realistic but it also has to be "real". What I mean by real is that what hope you have you have to believe with all of your heart and soul.

I bet if they did a trial they would find that people live longer who have real hope as opposed to people who have little or no hope.

Hope equates to fighting as well. I garuntee real fighters live longer regardless of how they choose to fight cancer. Your mind has a lot of influence over the rest of your body. That is why I believe a positive fighting attitude can make a difference and has kept me around this long.

There is so much debate about alternative approaches here. I dont think there is a magic bullet in conventional medecine or alternatives but I think if you believe in and have hope in whatever you choose it will make a difference in your outcome.

I choose all 4. Conventional, nutrition, exercise, and attitude.

I used to believe/hope I could be cured. I still hope I cn be cured but I also have now accepted the fact that I just might have to live with cancer. I think about dying often which I am sure we all do but I am NOT willing to accept the fact that cancer is going to kill me. I will fight tooth and nail partially out of spite.

relaxoutdoors08
Posts: 520
Joined: May 2011

For all of you who have "walked the walk", Thank you. I recognize when told by my surgeon and my oncologist I am in the group most likely to recur, my husband and I PREPARED FOR WORST, BUT HOPED FOR THE BEST. Now I am using meditation, aspirin,exercise,prayer, healing from chemo and living scan to scan.
NB

danker
Posts: 1191
Joined: Apr 2012

A cousin of mine said" if when you wake up in the morning- and know who you are and where you are it"s a magnificent day. Having a wife with alzheimers, I know the time will come when she cannot do that. Her situation makes me sad, but every day we have left where she knows who I am is indeed a magnificent day. Aunti Mame sais, "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. Enjoy every day you have!!!

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I understand what you are saying.....and that's why Hope is so hard to ascertain or define...because it is a moving target and as such it's hard to define for the general population.

I'm not a proponent of False Hope - but then again, what defines that for me does not apply to someone else...as such, I tread lightly with regards to the subject. I like to espouse the virtues of Hope - but those that have come to know me and how I think, know that I'm firmly grounded in reality.

For some, I may be too grounded:) But as you stated, I believe in a certain acceptance and the coming to terms of what we are facing - regardless of the subject matter.

What Hope looks like for somebody else will never be mine to say - because how Hope lives or dies in each one of us is so unique and unto one's self - Hope is such a fragile eco-system and as such, it takes alot of weeding and gardening to keep the Roots of Hope in bloom.

I really think of HOPE as an emotional response - it's the catalyst that can separate that portion of time where our resolve is waning from the feeling that Hope can keep us grounded and focused towads our goal.

However, as an emotion, Hope in and of itself, will never sustain us in our everyday fights with cancer - or with Life. But, it's that thin veil of reality that can make such a difference in us hanging in vs dropping out.

And that's the value and the ideology that Hope brings for all of us. It's like a fruit that we pick while it is ripe - otherwise, it can wither and die on the vine if left unattended.

Reality will always redefine Hope and what the definition that Hope stands for at that particular juncture of our lives where we either need it - or question it's existence.

Hope is many things to many people - and maybe that's not such a bad thing. For what gets you to the next dawn may be a different definition than what it is for me. And of course, that's okay - we're all different - we're all unique - but we're also all common - and we're also so much the same.

And in the end, whether it's real or imagined - whether it's True or just False...without some feelng of Hope in whatever form that it manifests it from...

"Without Hope - the people will perish."

Thank you so much, Steve, for contributing to this discussion and my thoughts continue to be with you as you will redefine your own meaning of what Hope means for you - and I think to a very large degree - you will redefine the meaning for the community at large.

Take care!

-Craig

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