Hope is a way through the trauma of cancer, nourishing body and mind with energy to endure each new trial.
Hopelessness is characterized by inability to anticipate any positive event. Hope is created by the ability to project into the future and imagine something better than the present reality.
Anticipation of pleasure relieves the pain, fear or pessimism of the present moment.
Without hope, parents and children are unable to make informed decisions, have meaningful relationships or experience joy and meaning in life. They frequently abandon treatment, leading to great suffering and often death of the child who might otherwise have been cured, even with simple eye removal surgery.
The degree of hopefulness we have is influenced by the amount of love and encouragement we receive from people around us. Hope increases energy, courage, trust in the doctors, self belief, motivation and compliance with treatment. Fear and pessimism are reduced, and the child’s quality of life is improved.
Nurture Your Own Hope
Ask yourself, “what makes a good day?” or “what am I hoping for today?”
Learn about retinoblastoma, your child’s tests and treatments. Create your own coping plan for difficult procedures and EUA days. This will help reduce your stress and anxiety, enabling you to prepare and support your child through these experiences.
Stay in touch with family and friends through telephone calls, social media, email or letters. Lean on them for support and encouragement – their love will give you strength and encouragement.
Find ways to reduce your stress, such as laughter, exercise and relaxation. Go for a walk or run in the park – green spaces are a great salve and the exercise will help your body stay healthy.
Give yourself some pampering “me time” every week. Have a bubble bath, go to a beauty salon, have a massage, indulge in a little comfort food. Time out helps relax and refocus the mind.
Focus on your strengths, abilities and successes rather than difficulties and uncertainties. Nurture belief in your ability to be your child’s best advocate, trust in the doctors and faith in God.
Keep a journal. Writing down worries can prevent them growing bigger in your mind, while positive thoughts written down can be re-read in difficult times. Write two positive things about each day, and your hopes for tomorrow.
Stay focused on the future. Some days you may think only about plans for tomorrow or the weekend, but that is what hope is – the belief in a better tomorrow.
Read the Alphabet of Hope and create your own to help focus your mind and nourish hopefulness. Make this a family project and create pictures for each letter to decorate your child’s hospital room or cubicle.
Nurture Your Child’s Hope
Ask your child, “what makes a good day?” or “what are you hoping for today?”
Find out how much your child wants to know about the cancer and different tests and treatments. Create a coping plan for difficult procedures that includes simple choices like which hand to use for the IV, which eye first when drops are given, which comfort position. This will help reduce damaging anxiety and stress.
Make time for fun every day. Play a favourite game, watch a favourite movie, and eat fun foods. Go for a walk in the park – green spaces are very peaceful and refreshing for the soul.
Create activities that keep your child connected with family and friends, such as making thank you cards, exchanging home video or talking on the telephone.
Focus on your child’s abilities and successes rather than difficulties. Celebrate successful procedures and good test results.
Encourage your child to keep thinking about the future.
On some days, that may just be thinking about plans for tomorrow or the weekend, but that is what hope is – the belief in a better tomorrow.
Help your child create an Alphabet of Hope. This can be a wonderful letter learning activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Encourage your child to draw or paint a picture or create a model for each letter to decorate the hospital room or cubicle.