All posts by lorihope

About lorihope

Lori Hope is an Emmy-winning producer of more than 20 television documentaries and a former medical reporter and newspaper editor who authored the top-rated cancer support book, Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know after battling cancer herself. She speaks and writes about the importance of communicating compassionately with those rendered especially vulnerable by any disease, trauma, or other difficult condition, and uses her skill and passion as a communicator to inspire others to find the pleasure and value in supporting those who are suffering.

Hope's work has appeared in Newsweek and on the Oprah show and her commentaries have been broadcast on radio stations nationwide. Her book has been featured in media throughout the world including the Wall Street Journal, Time, Redbook, Cure, and ABC News. As a public speaker, Hope has worked with The American Cancer Society, The American Lung Association, the Oncology Nursing Assocation, and many other organizations and businesses, including Google.

For more information, see LoriHope.com, and check out Hope's , "what helps. what hurts. what heals.", the most widely-read professional blog on CarePages.com.

Seth Rogen and Me

[NOTE: This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post and RedRoom on 9/22/2011]

What do Seth Rogen and I have in common? First, our early TV shows, though critical successes, flopped in the ratings. Second, we're both Jewish (though my parents weren't socialists who met on an Israeli kibbutz). And third, we have both played the Cancer Card for personal gain.

Okay, it wasn't actually Seth, but the character, Kyle, he plays in the new cancer comedy, 50/50, who shamelessly exploits his best friend's cancer to get into a girl's pants. When I played the Cancer Card it wasn't to get laid for free, but to wriggle out of a late fee. I'd just been diagnosed, and everything in my world, bills included, took a back seat to the disease. When I blew a credit card payment and called customer service to explain why, the rep said sympathetically, "Consider the fee gone." If only cancer were so magically zapped.

Rogen's tacky Cancer Card-play is just one of the many comic antics that trumps the tragedy of cancer in 50/50.The Knocked Up star's cluelessness about what to say when his best friend, Adam (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is newly diagnosed with a rare cancer, shows from the moment he learns of it.

"You're gonna be okay," reassures Kyle, naming several celebrities who've survived cancer, including Patrick Swayze, who clearly didn't. "Look on the bright side."

"What bright side?" asks Adam.

Ironically, showing moviegoers the lighter side of cancer is one of the reasons screenwriter Will Reiser, on whom Adam's character in 50/50 is based, wrote the script: to break a filmic taboo.

"Though it's hard to say there's a lighter side of cancer… it's not all gloom and doom," Reiser told me over the phone. "Most of the movies you see about illness are so heavy handed and maudlin, that Seth and I thought what if I could show a lot of the absurdity and a lot of the funny things that were also happening to me, that might be a way to open up a larger discussion a) about illness and b) also about what we find acceptable to present in film."

Presenting the "If Lance beat it, so can you" or "Just think positively" remarks that others often proffer to prop up your spirits, goes a long way toward opening hearts and minds to what most of the walking well seek to avoid completely. And that promises to go a long way toward helping people with cancer feel less dismissed, marginalized, and misunderstood.

"I'm going to throw a party," declares Kyle, Reiser's real-life best friend — as if a going-away party with your public-radio station colleagues, where people ask "How-long-do-you-have" questions, is what anyone with cancer wants!

When I was about to undergo surgery recently to remove a cancer in my lung, I gathered together my closest friends, not to say goodbye, but to express my love and ask for their help taking care of me afterward. I didn't want to call it a "Healing Circle" (too New-Agey), so I called it a Hope Oval. My friends knew better than to ask hope-busting questions, not only because they're far more sensitive than Kyle, but because I've been educating them about what I need for many years.

I became an authority in psycho-social cancer support after writing a book about the subject in 2005, following my first bout with the disease, and in ensuing years, I intensified my study, conducting a survey of more than 600 survivors, the results of which appear in the newly released second edition of my book,Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know.

The #1 statement people with cancer want others to know, according to the survey, is "I need to laugh — or just forget about cancer or a while." Although 50/50 doesn't let you forget for an instant, it will make you laugh, and for many of us gut-punched by the disease, provide catharsis.

For friends and loved ones, lines in the film such as, "I don't know how to do this [help someone with cancer]" and "I'm sorry I keep saying the wrong thing" defuse the tension, and make it permissable to feel uncomfortable and blunder (one of the statements in Help Me Live is, "It's okay to say or do the 'wrong' thing" – just don't disappear!). For survivors, witnessing Adam's breakdowns, first in a violent diatribe and later in his mother's arms, may help purge some of the residual anger and pain.

Reiser saw the potential for this when he screened the film at his alma mater, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and was approached afterward by a favorite professor.

"[He] said to me, 'My mother and I have not talked about when my stepfather died of cancer 22 years ago, and I want her to go see this movie because I know if she sees this we'll be able to have a conversation about it.'

"You hear that and, wow it's not just a moviegoing experience, it's sort of therapeutic," continued Reiser. "How incredible is that? For me, that's what's most important."

For many who see 50/50, what may seem most important are the funny lines, most of which are given to Rogen, and are not-necessarily truth-based. (I asked Reiser if Rogen really shaves his crotch and if he used Reiser's cancer to pick up girls. "No, those are just jokes. Seth and I, when we were that age, were too terrified of women to actually talk to them that way.")

Though the humor in 50/50 will open our hearts, what will undoubtedly remain is the feeling that we share lots in common with both Will Reiser and Seth Rogen — that it's easy to get lost in our own point of view, but that when we watch films like 50/50, we ultimately gain new perspective, empathy, and hope.

A cancer survivor, Lori Hope has written and spoken about cancer support for almost a decade. Her best-selling cancer support book, Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know, was released this September in a new, expanded second edition that includes a foreword by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., a survey of more than 600 survivors, new sections on gender and cultural differences and childhood and adult cancers, and a "Quick Guide to Cancerquette." Hope's essays and articles have appeared in publications including Newsweek, and cancer-related and college English textbook anthologies. Her work has been featured on Oprah and The Today Show and in Time magazine and she has spoken before staff and leadership of the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Society, and dozens of other groups. To order her book and to read her blog, visit Lori on www.LoriHope.com and Red Room.

Seth Rogen and Me

 

[NOTE: This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post and RedRoom on 9/22/2011]

 

What do Seth Rogen and I have in common? First, our early TV shows, though critical successes, flopped in the ratings. Second, we're both Jewish (though my parents weren't socialists who met on an Israeli kibbutz). And third, we have both played the Cancer Card for personal gain.

 

Okay, it wasn't actually Seth, but the character, Kyle, he plays in the new cancer comedy, 50/50, who shamelessly exploits his best friend's cancer to get into a girl's pants. When I played the Cancer Card it wasn't to get laid for free, but to wriggle out of a late fee. I'd just been diagnosed, and everything in my world, bills included, took a back seat to the disease. When I blew a credit card payment and called customer service to explain why, the rep said sympathetically, "Consider the fee gone." If only cancer were so magically zapped.

 

Rogen's tacky Cancer Card-play is just one of the many comic antics that trumps the tragedy of cancer in 50/50.The Knocked Up star's cluelessness about what to say when his best friend, Adam (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is newly diagnosed with a rare cancer, shows from the moment he learns of it.

 

"You're gonna be okay," reassures Kyle, naming several celebrities who've survived cancer, including Patrick Swayze, who clearly didn't. "Look on the bright side."

 

"What bright side?" asks Adam.

 

Ironically, showing moviegoers the lighter side of cancer is one of the reasons screenwriter Will Reiser, on whom Adam's character in 50/50 is based, wrote the script: to break a filmic taboo.

 

"Though it's hard to say there's a lighter side of cancer… it's not all gloom and doom," Reiser told me over the phone. "Most of the movies you see about illness are so heavy handed and maudlin, that Seth and I thought what if I could show a lot of the absurdity and a lot of the funny things that were also happening to me, that might be a way to open up a larger discussion a) about illness and b) also about what we find acceptable to present in film."

 

Presenting the "If Lance beat it, so can you" or "Just think positively" remarks that others often proffer to prop up your spirits, goes a long way toward opening hearts and minds to what most of the walking well seek to avoid completely. And that promises to go a long way toward helping people with cancer feel less dismissed, marginalized, and misunderstood.

 

"I'm going to throw a party," declares Kyle, Reiser's real-life best friend — as if a going-away party with your public-radio station colleagues, where people ask "How-long-do-you-have" questions, is what anyone with cancer wants!

 

When I was about to undergo surgery recently to remove a cancer in my lung, I gathered together my closest friends, not to say goodbye, but to express my love and ask for their help taking care of me afterward. I didn't want to call it a "Healing Circle" (too New-Agey), so I called it a Hope Oval. My friends knew better than to ask hope-busting questions, not only because they're far more sensitive than Kyle, but because I've been educating them about what I need for many years.

 

I became an authority in psycho-social cancer support after writing a book about the subject in 2005, following my first bout with the disease, and in ensuing years, I intensified my study, conducting a survey of more than 600 survivors, the results of which appear in the newly released second edition of my book,Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know.

 

The #1 statement people with cancer want others to know, according to the survey, is "I need to laugh — or just forget about cancer or a while." Although 50/50 doesn't let you forget for an instant, it will make you laugh, and for many of us gut-punched by the disease, provide catharsis.

 

For friends and loved ones, lines in the film such as, "I don't know how to do this [help someone with cancer]" and "I'm sorry I keep saying the wrong thing" defuse the tension, and make it permissable to feel uncomfortable and blunder (one of the statements in Help Me Live is, "It's okay to say or do the 'wrong' thing" – just don't disappear!). For survivors, witnessing Adam's breakdowns, first in a violent diatribe and later in his mother's arms, may help purge some of the residual anger and pain.

 

Reiser saw the potential for this when he screened the film at his alma mater, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and was approached afterward by a favorite professor.

 

"[He] said to me, 'My mother and I have not talked about when my stepfather died of cancer 22 years ago, and I want her to go see this movie because I know if she sees this we'll be able to have a conversation about it.'

 

"You hear that and, wow it's not just a moviegoing experience, it's sort of therapeutic," continued Reiser. "How incredible is that? For me, that's what's most important."

 

For many who see 50/50, what may seem most important are the funny lines, most of which are given to Rogen, and are not-necessarily truth-based. (I asked Reiser if Rogen really shaves his crotch and if he used Reiser's cancer to pick up girls. "No, those are just jokes. Seth and I, when we were that age, were too terrified of women to actually talk to them that way.")

 

Though the humor in 50/50 will open our hearts, what will undoubtedly remain is the feeling that we share lots in common with both Will Reiser and Seth Rogen — that it's easy to get lost in our own point of view, but that when we watch films like 50/50, we ultimately gain new perspective, empathy, and hope.

 

A cancer survivor, Lori Hope has written and spoken about cancer support for almost a decade. Her best-selling cancer support book, Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know, was released this September in a new, expanded second edition that includes a foreword by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., a survey of more than 600 survivors, new sections on gender and cultural differences and childhood and adult cancers, and a "Quick Guide to Cancerquette." Hope's essays and articles have appeared in publications including Newsweek, and cancer-related and college English textbook anthologies. Her work has been featured on Oprah and The Today Show and in Time magazine and she has spoken before staff and leadership of the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Society, and dozens of other groups. To order her book and to read her blog, visit Lori on www.LoriHope.com and Red Room.

How To Support Yourself On 9/11

Just as words can blindside you and trigger an avalanche of anguish when you have cancer, the anniversary of the world-changing events of September 11 may bring up buried or forgotten feelings that are stronger than you may have remembered. Sense memories – seeing the jets, watching the towers fall, witnessing the gray bodies running madly for cover – may revive the trauma, terror, and loss of innocence of that day.

How to deal with the emotions? Give yourself permission to experience whatever you feel, but know that you can take care of yourself in some of the following ways:

• As when you have cancer, surround yourself with your most loving friends, those who will treat you with tenderness (unless you’re someone who prefers to be joked with or watch sports);

• If you don’t want to or think you can handle hearing the stories of devastation, which most of us have been hearing and feeling and thinking about all week, turn off the TV. You can go to church or temple and pray, or send loving thoughts to survivors, or commemorate the day any way you want; you needn’t show your respect by exposing yourself to more media images.

• Get out in nature; take a walk in a forest, on a beach, or through a park. Notice the squirrels; listen to the birds. Be in the moment. Meditate.

• Give your friend a back rub and ask her to give you one in return.

• Walk or play with your dog or your child or your niece or nephew. Let love flow unimpeded.

What are you doing on September 11? And if you have thoughts about how to assuage the grief and comfort yourself or others, please share them here. I’m not asking for political commentary; we are all of one heart.

With love and always hope,
Lori

www.LoriHope.com
Author of Help Me Live, Revised: 20 things people with cancer want you to know

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / DVIDSHUB

Better Late Than Never? Or Just “Better Late?”

A Facebook post on my wall the other day melted me. It was from a friend named Joanne, whom you may know as “Jill”, her pseudonym in my book.  I profiled her in the “I need to feel hope” chapter, detailing her joie de vivre, vitality, and relentless positivity in the face of dire prediction.

A stage three lung cancer survivor given a prognosis of just a few months, she’s still with us, gloriously so, some seven years later! We reconnected last spring after being out of touch for several years. I learned that her husband had died suddenly just a few weeks before, and though I planned on interviewing her again for the second edition of my book, I fell behind, largely because of my own beloved father’s sudden illness and death. She sent me a sweet message in the midst of my family’s crisis, but we fell out of touch again, as things often go.

I received a message from her the day after my birthday last month. She wrote, “I am so sorry to have been so late with condolences. You have your Dad’s smile. How nice to carry his legecy. Happy Birthday as well.” She explained that she almost never goes on Facebook; I visit infrequently as well because I simply don’t have time, and I suspect that she doesn’t either. She’s had a recurrence and as those of you who’ve fought cancer know, it’s a huge time and energy drain.

Joanne’s not the only friend who’s been late with condolences. Another associate-turned-friend, Jacquie, who brought me to her town to speak to her cancer support group a couple of years ago, sent me a lovely sympathy card several months after Dad’s death. I loved it, and feel guilty that I haven’t been able to find (or make) the time to thank her. I hope she reads this and understands.

Sometimes I think the adage should be “Better late” rather than “Better late than never.” Receiving condolences months after a loss can be as welcome and memorable as cards and calls early on. Support dies off, but losses deepen. I am feeling Dad’s physical absence more and more and more, especially with the approach of the holidays, and dread the grief that will surely wash over me like the imminent autumn rains.

Please, never doubt the verity of “Better late than never”, and one of my favorite new sayings, “Better late.” I plan on sending Joanne and others who’ve experienced losses this year another sympathy card in the next few days.

Always hope,

Lori
Author of
Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know
www.LoriHope.com

 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / scottwills

Remember, “Be Love Now”

 “The Big C” keeps getting better! Not “Cancer”, of course, but the Showtime series about Cathy, a woman with stage 4 melanoma. What’s interesting to me is that stories of Cathy and her friends, and an iconic 79-year old author weave together into a net that connects them. I hope to remember this when life hands me rotten lemons.

Remembering was what I planned to write about today. The classic 1971 book, Remember, Be Here Now, inspired me decades ago to live my life with a sense of immediacy and purpose. Everyone is a manifestation of God and every moment is infinitely significant, teaches the author, Richard Alpert, a.k.a. “Ram Dass”, his Hindu name. I was searching for the book last night because I wanted to read it again before buying his new book, Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart. I rooted through old boxes in the basement, but couldn’t find it, and would have continued looking had I not stopped to watch “The Big C”.

[Spoiler Alert: I’m about to reveal some significant plot lines.] In last night’s show, Cathy, who had hidden her cancer from her husband Paul for months, has just shared the devastating news with him. Then she lunches with her elderly neighbor, Marlene, who Cathy has just learned has Alzheimers, and her never-married college pal, Rebecca, who has been dating Cathy’s brother Sean. 

Marlene says in response to Cathy’s expression of sorrow about her Alzheimers, “I’m living in the moment; that’s what counts.” 

Then, Rebecca, in response to Cathy telling her to give up on her dream of marriage, says, “Don’t steal my hope; it’s all I have.” 

Finally, Cathy says to her oncologist Dr. Todd, after sharing that she plans to undergo an alternative bee sting therapy because chemotherapy won’t extend her life, “I used to be an optimist; I want to be that again.” 

How do these all weave together? Because they represent three truths:

1. As my Dad’s recent death reminded me, it is crucial to “be here now.” That doesn’t mean disregarding the future nor the past, but living each moment fully.

2. Everyone needs to believe that things can get better.

3. We should always keep love in our hearts, no matter what.

I look forward to reading Be Love Now, the third of a trilogy by Ram Dass. He wrote the second book, Still Here, after a stroke impaired his ability to speak. Interpreting his disability as an act of grace, he continued to lecture in spite of the difficulty. "I help people as a way to work on myself, and I work on myself to help people,” said Ram Dass. “To me, that’s what the emerging game is all about.

I agree, and I’ve never believed more that being conscious of what we have now, especially in contrast to what we have lost, makes our abundance sweeter; that even in the face of pain, fear, and disability, the here and now can be healing; and that there is always hope.

Lori
www.LoriHope.com

 Author of Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / rachel_titiriga

 

The Six Kindest Words (When Asembled In This Order)

 “Honesty is the best policy” is a 5-word idiom that, in my mind, only people with seriously flawed moral compasses challenge. Another sentence, this one comprising 6 words, follows from the previous one, at least in the realm of illness and loss, and I can’t imagine anyone challenging its value and truth:

“I don’t know what to say.”

When I brought that up today at a lunch party for a friend of mine who recently battled and conquered cancer, one of the women I was chatting with brightened like a lightning bug in June. We were discussing how awkward it can feel when you hear that someone has passed away and want to say something but aren’t sure what the bereaved needs and wants to hear. Of course, there’s always, “I’m so sorry that happened”, and it’s always best to avoid “She/he is in a better place”, but sometimes anything you say seems at best to fall flat, and at worst, to diminish the loss.

“Just admitting that you know what to say can defuse the tension,” I said, explaining that even though I wrote a book about stories of words and actions that help or conversely hurt those with cancer or who face serious life challenges, I still trip over words, make gaffes, and sometimes find myself at a total loss.

Careful and compassionate listening is always appropriate, but there usually comes a time when you have to open your mouth. When you find it filled with marbles or cotton, simply spit out these six words, strung together with kindness:

“I don’t know what to say.”

And then of course follow with something like, “I want you to know how much I care and want to support you.”

So simple and yet so profound. And yet it can be so terribly difficult to admit that we don’t know what to say. We want to feel comfortable and in control, wise and strong, kind and compassionate. But, really, sometimes all we can control is our mouth, and often there is no comfort to be found in the presence of someone who is hurting beyond our imagination.

If you admit it when you don’t know what to say or when you think you’ve said something wrong or hurtful, your humility, along with your kindness, compassion, and sincerity, will heal.

Always hope,
Lori
Author of Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know, amazon.com’s second best-selling cancer support book
www.lorihope.com 

 

 

Can Giving Up Hope Actually Heal?

The statement, “I need to feel hope” captures a key yearning of not only people with cancer, but everyone. Hope keeps us going through unimaginable pain and debilitation.

And yet there is a time when giving up hope is prerequisite for healing. It is when we give up hope for undoing damage that has already been done.

“Forgiving means giving up all hope for a better past,” said Jack Kornfield, PhD, in his soft, melodic voice yesterday at the “Science and Practice of Forgiveness” seminar, part of the Greater Good Science Center’s“Science of a Meaningful Life” series. The quotation, alternately attributed to the Lakota Sioux or Lily Tomlin, is a core concept of forgiveness: that one look forward rather than backward.

As Dr. Fred Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project and author of Forgive for Good said at the seminar, we cannot change what has happened, but we can change how much power we allow it to wield over us.

“This is so simple, but it’s not easy,” Luskin conceded. This is why he teaches classes and workshops on forgiveness, and has worked with groups of wounded individuals from Irish Catholics and Protestants to divorcees, and will soon be training seven educators from Sierra Leone.

Self-forgiveness is just as important, or perhaps more important, than forgiving others’ transgressions. I saw my friend, therapist Susan Halpern, author of The Etiquette of Illness at the seminar yesterday, and recalled what inspired her to write her book: regret over not being more present for and supportive of a neighbor who was very ill. She not only forgave herself, she created out of her regret a lasting gift to the world.

As Luskin said, humans are imperfect. Being hurt is just part of life, a normal manifestation of living. There is and always has been murder, selfishness, greed.

I would add that friends, family, colleagues, and strangers will always “blurt” horror stories to people with cancer. But if we can say, as so many of us do, the statement from my book, “It’s okay to say or do the ‘wrong’ thing”, we offer forgiveness in advance, letting people know that we accept their limitations. We do so in exchange for their caring and very presence, which we so badly need.

More on forgiveness in coming posts…

Always hope,
Lori
Author of 
Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know
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This post originally appeared on Hope’s CarePages blog, "what helps. what hurts. what heals."

 

 

 

Does Compassion Have Limits? Tiger Woods’s New Nike Ad

For years, I have used suffering, my own and others’, to build compassion for the disenfranchised, homeless, mentally ill, and people diagnosed with cancer, but when a philanderer exploits his dead father to sell athletic gear in a TV ad to be seen by millions?

Does it matter to you what Tiger Woods’s feelings are and whether he learned anything? What about his wife and family? What do they feel and what have they learned?

To me, "too soon" would be "never" for this ad, whether you feel compassion for him or not.

Okay, so I do feel some pain and common humanity as I regard his face, his deep sadness. But to put this in the form of an ad ending with a swish offends me. Just do it?

I’m interested in your thoughts. I’m feeling pretty awful, having made my life the past twenty years or so about building compassion through making television documentaries and writing nonfiction, and believe me, I am far from perfect myself, as are all of us. But when is it okay to put the brakes on compassion and see the forest for the trees?

Lori Hope
www.LoriHope.com

Why Do I Look So Young? And Why Do I Care?

An article in the New York Times this week, "How Exercising Keeps Your Cells Young", came out just two days after Intent.com’s Yumi Sakugawa put out a call for blog posts about how to look and feel younger. The combination of the two got me questioning more seriously why I have always been told I look much younger than I am. And that led to another, much bigger question.

 First question first. I used to attribute my youthful looks simply to good genes on my dad’s side. Until just a few years ago, Dad was always mistaken for a much younger man. When I was 17, soon after he and my mom split up, he took me to Las Vegas, and everyone thought we were a couple. His brother in law was so jealous of my dad’s youthful good looks that he bought a highly visible billboard on St. Louis’ most trafficked highway, trumpeting to the world Dad’s age when he turned 50. 

But I think my youthful demeanor comes from more than just my genetic code. My 23 year old niece always tells me my toes look young – could it be the red polish, and the other choices I make when I dress, fix my hair, groom myself?

People say I sound young on the phone. Is it my cheery voice? My youthful enthusiasm, idealism, and joie de vivre?

I do exercise, and always do something I truly enjoy, such as salsa dancing, Zumba, or advanced step aerobics. So that probably helps keep the color in my face and the bounce in my step.

And maybe it has something to do with feeling reborn, having survived lung cancer seven years ago. I smile more, and enjoy the little as well as big things much more than before.

Maybe my “secret” comprises all of the above. But I have a much bigger secret than that: I want more than anything NOT to want to look younger than I am. What’s wrong with looking one’s age, or with aging itself? It’s as natural as sweating, sleeping, urinating, dying, loving, yearning to be loved. This culture of youth-and-beauty worship is wrong-headed, and simply wrong.

Not that it will ever change, at least as long as companies exploit our reptilian brains to sell products and services. We are hard-wired to want to procreate; men are attracted to beautiful young women who can have their babies. Women seek strong men who can protect their lair. I get that. But I also get that other cultures revere elders for the wisdom and depth of experience their deep wrinkles belie.

The question to me isn’t how to look younger, it’s how to accept how one looks and how to look beyond looks when evaluating the value of our fellow men and women.


Always hope,

Lori


Editor • Producer • Author of

Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know
Blogging at
what helps. what hurts. what heals.

LoriHope.com

 


 

 

Awakening to Gratitude

I awakened this morning feeling grateful for life itself. In the Jewish faith, followers are told to say a prayer of thanks every day upon rising, which I think is a great idea but is of course far more easily said than done.

Most days I wake up thinking about all I have to do, making mental and physical lists as I (it’s embarrassing to say) reach for my laptop and open it. I often begin work while still in bed – writing, reading emails, responding to messages – and lose track of time until my husband reminds me that we need to walk Bean in 5 minutes. Then I rush to get dressed and depending on the day’s activities, don either my slacks and sweater outfit for the outside world or my much-preferred work-at-home jeans and stained sweatshirt.

As I consider this morning’s awakening, suddenly I recall with frightening clarity what it was like to wake up when I had cancer. My thoughts immediately went to my tumor, as soon as consciousness cleared my mind of the night’s dreams – which were sometimes about cancer, death, or dying. Yet even though I awakened each morning in Cancerland, I somehow, miraculously, was able to find the source of love and joy, and faithfully find something to be thankful for. Of course my moods swung back and forth like a pendulum (unfortunately, though, without a pendulum’s dependable regularity), and I would find myself sometimes the antithesis of my name. But ultimately I returned to whatever it is – Whomever it is – that helped the Phoenix rise from the ashes.

I awakened this morning feeling grateful for life itself. For more than seven years of freedom of mind and heart. For all I have been able to give freely and receive humbly. For everyone I love, for my family, for all of you who have posted comments here and who have become part of this community and sometimes trusted friends.

What are you grateful for?

I wish you a wonderful holiday, and may you awaken each day with a grateful and hopeful heart.

With love and always hope,
Lori
www.LoriHope.com
Author of Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know

This post originally appeared on Hope’s CarePages blog, "what helps. what hurts. what heals."

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