When James Lipton asks celebrities of all types on "Inside the Actors Studio" Bernard Pivot's infamous question about what their favorite 4-letter word* is, we all laugh as we hear f-bombs being dropped, the s-word flung about, etc. But one day, I'd love to hear someone respond with the 4-letter word, "HOPE"
Tis but a foolish word, "HOPE." So simple. Simple to say, simple to spell, and simple to think about - that is, until hope is tested.
We all "hope" that our children will do well in school starting the first day they hop on the bus - and it's easy to hope that. But when a child is diagnosed with a learning disorder that prohibits an easy academic life, that hope becomes challenged.
So to, when we "hope" that our loved ones "have good day" when they leave for work or hope they "feel better" upon reporting that they have a cold, it rolls off the tongue without a second thought. And when we "hope for the best" for ourselves and others, we don't stop and wonder about any alternative to the "best."
That is, until there is an immediate challenge.
For those of us who have been diagnosed with cancer, even the most optimistic among us feel hope fade - even if it's just for a moment, it does. We can't help it. For those whose loved one is diagnosed, their hope may even falter even more - not only do they question hope for their own future, but they now worry about their loved one.
And, for those cancer fighters among us who have the dreaded determination that the cancer has come back, hope is tested once more, and sometimes in a far more brutal way. You see, when you've fought it once, and you've made it through the "other side," however that's defined in anyone's particular case - whether it be a no evidence of disease declaration from the doctor, finishing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, etc - we instinctively begin the (sometimes grueling) process of rebuilding our hopes, possibly developing new and greater hope. Imagine, if you will, just coming out of that process, just starting to bathe in the light at the end of the tunnel only to learn that you have to fight that fight again.
For first time fighters, like I was, it's terrifying. For those fighting repeatedly, I can't imagine.
So, when hope is tested, sometimes our immediate loved ones can fill in, sometimes they can't. But LIVESTRONG can. LIVESTRONG helps us remember that there are things to look forward to - whether it be a LIVESTRONG Challenge, a program like First Descents, financial assistance, or helping to find the right program, medical facility or doctor - LIVESTRONG can be that beacon when others feel their hope tested.
Today, for example, was a wonderful case of why a foundation like LIVESTRONG's existence helps foster hope.
On the one hand, I have a friend who has a unique form of cancer. It's been very hard on them, and they are facing a new barrage of treatments - none of which are easy by any account. While several of us have been struggling to figure out what we can do to help and support this friend, contacts at LIVESTRONG coincidentally spread the word that today MD Anderson was making an announcement about a new program - Moon Shots. MD Anderson drew inspiration from President Kennedy's words quoted above, hence the program's name. "The nation’s No. 1 hospital for cancer care, with its unparalleled resources and capabilities, is uniquely positioned to accelerate the end of cancer. It’s closer than you think. What’s learned from these initial cancer 'moon shots' will ultimately lead to cures for all types of the disease."
While LIVESTRONG does not fund medical research, they do have ties to MD Anderson, and one is hard-pressed not to hear MD Anderson being referred by LIVESTRONG Leaders and staff.
As it happens, the Moon Shots program specifically addresses the challenging cancer that my friend is fighting, as well as several others. My friend was on the verge of giving up all hope. And, thanks to LIVESTRONG's communication network, we learned that my friend has a reason to hope - even if it's just the chance to look at an alternative.
Hope is such a simple thing on the surface. But look below that surface.
I pray none of you have to test your hope outside of what I ask you to do in this blog post.
But if you do, know that you can always turn to LIVESTRONG for reinforcement of hope for you and your loved ones.
Please consider a donation to my LIVESTRONG Challenge Account - http://laf.convio.net/goto/RicaRocksAustin2012. The LIVESTRONG Challenge, since my diagnosis, provided me with a goal and hope and something to look forward to while I was in treatment, and now that my procedures are winding down, something to continue to hope towards.
* FYI, yes, I know, he actually asks what their favorite "curse word" is, but that would have defeated the lovely literary thing I had going there.