How different it is to hear from one’s diagnosing oncologist, “Your diagnosis is a tough one. I am going to work with you and hope that we can get you well. I AM WITH YOU”
than the words too often heard, “We have few options for your diagnosis. It is best that you go home, enjoy your family, and get your papers in order.”
If we hold the belief that a person can contribute to healing by accessing the power of HOPE and the mind-body connection, the latter response is unacceptable.
I am designing a series of books about HOPE to be presented to newly diagnosed patients at the time of their diagnosis. The books will be compilations of vignettes or stories or simple words of inspiration written by cancer survivors who wish to offer words of hope at the time these persons need support the very most.
These books will be presented to the patients and their families by their oncologists, nurse practitioners or social workers or put at their bedsides if they are hospitalized.
The first book will be made by children for children who are newly diagnosed (High Hopes); the second by adults who offer hope to adult patients (I Am With You); the third by teens and young adults with some appropriate hip title; and the fourth will be survivors telling their “miracle” stories (Believe in Miracles) …. those stories written by cancer survivors who ‘defied medical statistics’ and are here to tell the tale and inspire patients in treatment.
The books will be sponsored by individuals and corporations that have a stake in ending the cancer epidemic.
It is my hope that these books will be translated into various languages.
The audience will be every child, teen, young adult, and adult who is diagnosed with cancer and needs support for the challenges ahead. On those difficult first nights after a diagnosis, I can see these short, heart-filled books planting seeds of hope.
As a clinical psychologist and a cancer survivor with a ”miracle” story, I am privileged to have shared the journeys of many persons with cancer and their friends and families. I am aware that our usual work with cancer patients begins when they have had poor responses to treatment and have lost their spirit, their hope, and their courage. They are depressed, scared, giving up. Many want to stop the treatment protocol. Our professional intervention at that moment is oftentimes too late. It is urgent that we ‘meet’ these persons when they are first diagnosed and in ‘shock and awe’, fearing for their future and that of their loved ones.
As we look to the explanation for why some people “defy medical statistics” and survive insurmountable obstacles in their cancer treatment and why others resist treatment and do not endure, we seem to land on that vague and indefinable notion that there is a significant psychological mechanism at work. As a psychologist, I wonder … Is that a mind-set that a person is born with … or develops with life? Can it be encouraged by the medical professional who engages with this individual?
Science has shown the benefits of hope in the healing process. It is our purpose to encourage their courage.
Cancer survivors are eager to share information that helped them to deal with the cancer journey. If we can offer newly diagnosed patients a beautiful book of hope, wisdom, and compassion to have with them by the bedside on the first day, we will make a true contribution to their personalized healing relationship to their cancer.
We want these patients to know they are not alone … thus, the title of the series, “I Am With You.”
I hope that you can envision the promise of this project as I do and that you will consider supporting its development.
I look forward to receiving your stories of hope.
Children … start drawing …
Share your words of hope …
Include photos (jpegs) if you wish …
Give me permission to use your story in this collaborative effort.
Be anonymous …. if you wish … or not.
We can make a difference. We always do.
With immense gratitude,
Nancy Novack Ph.D.