Updated: Jul 6, 2021
"To hope under the most extreme circumstances is an act of defiance that… permits a person to live his life on his own terms. It is part of the human spirit to endure and give a miracle a chance to happen.” - Jerome Groopman, M.D.
In The Anatomy of Hope, Jerome Groopman, M.D. states, “Without hope, nothing could begin; hope [offers] a real chance to reach a better end. Hope helps us overcome hurdles that we otherwise could not scale, and it moves us forward to a place where healing can occur." Hope allows us to overcome situations that are otherwise impossible. And it’s not just related to disease.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl credits hope as the key to surviving the concentration camps during the Holocaust. According to Frankl’s book, the prisoners who died, “died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for.” Those who survived kept hope alive in their hearts and minds, allowing them to endure the most excruciating and trying of circumstances.
Yet, as important as hope is to our survival, maintaining it is so incredibly difficult in our society. Why? For starters, the news is filled with negativity and fear-based stories, because these types of headlines gain eyeballs, ratings and click-throughs. We’re connected to this news 24/7. Even if we don’t actually watch or read it, we see updates on social media and in our emails or learn about it from friends and family. Our constant exposure to negative stories crowds out the positive, inspiring news items. Unfortunately, this negativity bias happens just as much with disease as it does with current events.
When you hear stories about cancer, how many positive ones can you recall? Even the constant reminders about cancer awareness contain a negative bias at a subconscious level. While these messages are important to save the lives of cancer patients, especially in earlier stages of the disease, the unintended consequence is the consistent message that cancer is something to be feared. Each pink breast cancer ribbon we see reminds women to get pre-screened for breast cancer, but it also reminds us of cancer’s threat to our lives. And when there is fear, it crowds out hope – just like negative news stories crowd out positive ones.
With all of the fear in today's world, focusing on messages of hope is becoming an increasingly critical component of recovering from disease, living a healthy life and caring for those who are sick. What if the next time you see a colored cancer awareness ribbon you’re also reminded of the story of a young woman who found a new path to health after surviving breast cancer? Or the story of someone who beat stage 4 cancer after being given a very small chance of survival? While it won’t happen overnight, Connect4Hope’s goal is to offset and replace the unintended subliminal messages of fear that accompany the word “cancer” with positive messages of hope – true hope. With that hope, we’re giving ourselves the chance to overcome obstacles that would otherwise seem impossible.
As Dr. Groopman says, “To hope under the most extreme circumstances is an act of defiance that… permits a person to live his life on his own terms. It is part of the human spirit to endure and give a miracle a chance to happen.”- Jerome Groopman, M.D.,
Thank you for joining us on this journey as we provide each other with hope and encouragement.
Subscribe to Connect4Hope and receive weekly Notes of Hope, which include new Stories of Hope, blog posts and inspirational messages.
Do you or someone you know have a Story of Hope to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.