Support Tools: Hope on the Brain Tumour Journey - Is it possible?

Hope can be a very powerful feeling. It can be the cure to hopelessness and despair. Hope is also the possibility that things will get better and the future will be positive. When you have hope, it can encourage you to do things that will improve and benefit you in the future. While hope is a comforting and beneficial emotion, it can also be hard to hold onto, especially when dealing with a brain tumour diagnosis. Dealing with this diagnosis is an extremely frightening time and can create a negative outlook for the future. You may be unsure about what will happen and predict the worst, resulting in a loss of optimism.

So how do you regain a sense of hope and hold onto it?

  • Acknowledge your strengths: Many people lose hope because they feel like they are not good enough. Make a list of your strengths and things you are proud of. You are good enough and deserve to feel worthwhile!
     
  • Surround yourself with important people in your life: Spend time with people who make you feel good and supported. It is much easier to feel hopeful when you are surrounded by loved ones rather than being on your own. They can help you cope with negative emotions and support you on your journey.
     
  • Do things you enjoy: Doing pleasurable activities can make you feel happier and give you a sense of purpose. Trying new activities can also be fun and you can find things you are good at and that bring you joy. This is also a great way to relieve stress and forget about those negative emotions.
     
  • Record your feelings and thoughts in a journal: Journaling can help relieve stress and reveal the reasons as to why you may feel hopeless. Also, every day, try writing down a few things that make you feel good or that you are grateful for.
     
  • Talk to someone: Sometimes just talking about your fears, concerns, hopes or anything on your mind can help create a more positive and hopeful attitude. You can try talking to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Support groups can also be beneficial because you can connect with others who share similar circumstances and emotions to you. Groups are also a great way to learn and share about new tools to create hopefulness in your life.

So what happens when you receive false hope about your diagnosis? False hope is looking forward to something that probably won’t happen or feeling confident about something that might not be true. Unfortunately, doctors may give patients false hope about their illness, leaving the patient and their family feeling relieved but uninformed. Doctors don’t do this to deceive patients; they just don’t want to scare anyone and wish to make the patient feel better. When doctors give truthful reassurance, the relationship between the patient and the doctor will be one of trust and cooperation. Giving false reassurance or hope, even if the intentions are good, can impair the doctor-patient relationship because it can lead to the patient not trusting the professional and will then be unlikely to believe truthful reassurance in the future.

False hope can also come from ignoring the facts about the reality of the brain tumour diagnosis – some people will have an unshakeable faith that everything will turn out okay, despite the situation. While having hope that everything will turn out well is important to have, it is also important to acknowledge the situation and be aware of the challenges ahead. Hope is a tool to help through difficult times, not a strategy of getting a positive outcome.

With both kinds of false hope, it is extremely important to know the details of the situation at hand. So how do you find out the details of the diagnosis and treatment needed? Ask questions and look for support. It can be helpful to write out a list of questions before meeting with your doctor or health care professional. This prevents you from forgetting questions while meeting with them and allows you to ensure that all your questions and needs are met. Also, reading and learning about your diagnosis can be beneficial. It allows you to do your learning on your own terms and pace. If you feel overwhelmed, learn a little bit at a time, taking in bitesize pieces of information. But know that if you are eager to learn more about a brain tumour diagnosis, reach out for resources and ask as many questions as you want. You can call Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s 1-800 support and information line, join a support group and ask other survivors and patients about their experiences, or visit the links provided below that connect you to online advice and tips for finding hope.

 

"Hope: a one-syllable word that will keep you going when all of the other more impressive words have failed to sustain you." -- Joni Aldrich

 

For more information about Hope, we recommend this selection of websites:

  • http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/hope.htm 
  • http://www.wikihow.com/Have-Hope 
  • http://patientpathways.ca/dangers-of-false-reassurance-hope/ 

 

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