The Meaning of Hope

The 2018 Honorary Walk Chair Johanna D’Addario is a cancer survivor and advocate of knowing your family history and learning all you can about your genetics to proactively take charge of your health. She will be sharing her thoughts on all she’s been through and her hopes and dreams for the future.

As I thought about the theme for this year’s TBBCF walk, “Hope”, I started to ponder what the word means. I’ve been going to a painting fundraiser since the year I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer on a surveillance MRI. Each year, a different “hope” painting is created. I’ve gone with friends, with my mom, with other breast cancer survivors. It’s a fun and meaningful night out.

But when I look at my paintings, and think about the walk, I wonder … what does hope really mean in the context of breast cancer? Why is it chosen as a word that is important in the breast cancer community?

The word hope can be used as a noun. “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, dream.

Money is being raised in the hope of finding a cure for cancer.

Oncologists give us hope in finding new drugs and treatment options.

The hope in genetics and prevention is that future generations won’t be affected the way that we have been.

There is hope in the future of cancer research.

Hope can be used as a verb. Something we do. We “want something to happen or be the case.”

Synonyms: expect, anticipate, look for, want, wish for, long for, dream of.

I hope my scan comes back clean.

I hope my hair grows back.

We still hope to have a family some day.

We’re all hoping for a cure.

I think of some of the challenges since my breast cancer diagnosis, and the hopes that went along with them and I still have today. I hoped for no chemotherapy and rejoiced when my Her2 receptor status came back negative. I hoped for the pain and muscle spasm to go away after surgery. I hope my energy comes back. I hope we can fulfill our dream of having a family. I hope to feel like I have a “normal life” again (although I’m not sure that will ever be the case). I hope recurrence is never part of my cancer journey.

On a greater level, I hope I can help other women with genetic conditions by advocating for early detection. I hope breast cancer patients will benefit from research and novel drugs. I hope oncologists have the support they need to do their work. I hope breast cancer can be prevented in children of women with genetic mutations. I hope future treatment options are better, stronger, and easier to tolerate. I hope women know that they are not alone in their challenges, pain, or fear.

For breast cancer patients, staying hopeful isn’t always easy. Dealing with the unknown of the future is uncomfortable, frightening, daunting, scary. Perhaps sharing hope with others gives us some peace of mind.

What do you hope for?


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