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Keeping Hope Alive

by Ann Brandt

You cannot battle cancer alone. A vital factor in survival is hope, an ingredient to be shared with others like a treasured gift. When my husband, George, was told that the four large tumors imbedded deep in his brain would take his life within a few weeks, hope seemed far away indeed. There must have been a tiny spark, however, that caused us to take the option of using heavy doses of chemotherapy, which was offered by the treatment team as a last resort effort to save George’s life. The future seemed grim, and the road ahead would be hard.

Then, early in the cancer journey, we were given the gift of hope. The first infusion of chemotherapy had begun, and George lay, half asleep, while I sat beside his hospital bed, watching the bright yellow fluid drip through the tube. I couldn’t imagine how something so evil looking and so poisonous would save his life.

The black cloud that had been hovering over our spirits left.

Author of Article photo

A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. It was Charles, a man from our church whom we knew only slightly. His manner projected calm and confidence. Our conversation touched on everyday matters, and soon we were chatting comfortably like old friends. A half hour or so passed, and Charles said, “You know, I have a cousin who had this kind of brain tumor seven years ago at the age you are now.”

George and I exchanged looks. “How long did she live?” I asked. “Oh, she’s still alive. She’s always loved traveling, and she’s on a tour of China right now or I’d have you talk to her.”

When Charles left, the black cloud that had been hovering over our spirits left too. We both look back on our unexpected visitor that day as an angel who left us with the gift of hope. There would be more people like Charles, and more events that would help us in the coming weeks whenever our spirits sagged and there seemed no reason for optimism. From the day of Charles’ visit, we knew that God was with us and would help us every step of the way.

Nine years later, George talks with others who have been newly diagnosed, always passing on that gift of hope, that little spark that keeps alive the human spirit.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Adapted from A Caregiver’s Story: Coping with a Loved One’s Life-Threatening Illness, by Ann Brandt,

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2008.