There is no such thing as false hope

My miracle friend Darlene and I during a visit to her home last year.

My miracle friend Darlene and I during a visit to her home last year.

I had a great experience being interviewed on a BlogTalk radio show,Because Hope Matters, hosted by Maryann Makekau and Rob Harris this week. The hosts were extremely well prepared and asked some probing questions. As happens sometimes when I participate in a good interview, it made me address issues in an in-depth way.

When I first wrote my book, From Incurable to Incredible and started this blog, I never imagined that anyone would be offended by or feel marginalized by my message. But I started to hear from a few people who wondered by writing about people who beat the odds and what they had in common, “What about the people who have done everything possible and still die before their time?” I was able to address this issue, among many others, during my interview.

Absolutely, there are no winners and losers, when it comes to cancer. When someone dies, they did not fail in any way. I have been blessed to know some amazing men and women who made a tremendous impact before and after they succumbed to cancer. Ironically, I tell stories of people who have shown No Evidence of Disease (NED) for years, even decades. But I still deal with active disease, like many other people I know. I used to think I somehow have failed; or did something wrong when a scan showed progression. If only I took more supplements — or less supplements. Maybe I wasn’t positive enough. I know now that is just ridiculous.

I have learned to live well with cancer. It doesn’t matter what a scan says. As long as I’m living, I’m going to try to make a difference and enjoy life — with or without NED.  My goal is to give people (and myself) hope by showing there are cancer survivors who are living way beyond what their prognosis indicated. It’s not false hope; it’s just hope. And it’s sure better than hearing a death sentence and preparing yourself to die.

Many people would tell my friend Darlene Gant that she was holding on to false hope last year as she literally laid on her death-bed facing certain liver failure as a complication from advanced breast cancer. Yet she fought to– and won –to  gain compassionate use of the then experimental drug, Perjeta. Then she went through a series of operations to place and replace drains to keep her liver functioning. Doctors predicted she’d never get the drains out, which usually work for three months until the patient dies. A year later and Darlene is thriving, recently getting her drain permanently removed, and is fully participating in life. Last weekend she threw a Memorial Day party for about 40 friends and sported a two-piece bathing suit, baring her torso, where a draining bag and tube once was placed.

As Darlene and I discussed over the phone today, the most important thing is to live in the moment and fully participate in life, regardless of the length of it. I’ve learned to say no to things that are not life-affirming and yes to things that are. Maryann called this living life boldly. I never thought of it that way; to me, it’s  living life in a sane and happy way. Like Darlene, I choose to live mine with hope and purpose. I think it’s something we all can do … with or without a life-threatening illness.

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  1. I am so happy to read how you and Darlene are able to live in the moment. I admire both of you so much and I was so excited when I saw Darlene’s video and found out she got the drug “perjata” and she is alive and thriving. Both of you have become so important to me through social media and I think your attitude is so refreshing. I know this disease can be so cruel and there are so many ups and downs, but still through all of it you reading your posts continues to inspire me and fuels me to keep working on making sure we get more funding for MBC as well as really trying to end this disease. Thank you for this great post.


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