Feeling Hope

I think one of the hardest parts of Tate’s diagnosis, and dealing with the health care system, has been maintaining a feeling of hope.  Tate’s heard about the difficulties and side effects of chemo.  Of radiation.  We’ve heard statistics that are frightening.  And while nobody has given him a long-term prognosis, not hearing that is just as frightening as listening to bad news. 

I’m a nurse and I know that health care professionals are all taught not to ever give false hope.  We don’t want to make promises that we can’t keep.  But giving hope doesn’t mean giving false hope.  False hope is based on a fantasy, a dream.  That doesn’t mean that hope isn’t out there.  Without something to hold on to, it’s very difficult to face the next day.

Last night, Tate and I went to a support group run by Bernie Siegel.  He’s a retired surgeon who has worked for over 30 years with cancer patients, as well as others with life-changing illnesses, to think positively and remain hopeful.  Bernie believes in the power of positive thought, the power of laughter and the power of love.  It’s almost impossible to be in his presence and not feel the strength of that power.

Tate was the only man (other than Bernie and his son) who was at the meeting.  No surprise there!  So Bernie started by asking Tate about his feelings about his cancer.  When asked what color his chemotherapy would be Tate said it was green.  Bernie’s face broke into a huge smile, and he said “green’s the color of life.  That’s good.  That’s really good.” 

There was a woman at the meeting who is friendly with some of Tate’s friends.  She shared that she heard about his diagnosis from those mutual friends, and that the love those friends had for Tate was palpable.  She talked about how loveable Tate is and how valued he is by those in his life.  It brought me to tears, and it helped Tate talk about how he has been trying to learn to appreciate his right to be loved for a long time.  Which brought him to tears.

The entire evening was filled with a sense of hope.  And hope is something we left with.  Laughter is abundant in Tate’s life.  If nothing else, Tessa and Elijah are a constant source of laughter and joy.  And the rest of his community is as loving and supportive as anyone could hope for. 

As Tate would say, “We’re gonna slap that rascal.”  Not just slap it, but win.

With love and hope,



  1. #1 by Nina on March 8, 2012 - 8:00 pm

    Well, Karen, you brought me to tears too. Hope, laughter and joy are ESSENTIAL, and not just when you’re facing cancer. Huge hugs to you and Tate from me and everyone else on that long, long, long love list.

    love, Nina

  2. #2 by Lucy Rosenblatt on March 8, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Thanks Karen. Tate and I walked and talked yesterday. And some of the discussion was serious and heavy, and he was definitely tired, but we DID laugh. And we will keep laughing together. When my mother had cancer my father was very negative about Bernie Siegel and my mother passed up an opportunity to attend his sessions. That was a mistake. I’m glad you guys went last night , and that alternative treatments etc are more acceptable

  3. #3 by Elvy Stepinoff on March 8, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    HOPE!! What a wonderful word, a wonderful concept, and a strength giving feeling. I, too became teary as I read your blog. Denny and I have hope, though I didn’t always. Hope is always better than no hope!! Our love goes out to you.

  4. #4 by Martin on March 8, 2012 - 9:17 pm

    I miss all of you so much I could pop! Thanks for writing this Karen. I’ve been thinking about you since I heard the news. I’m so glad to hear about things from your perspective as well. Big Hugs!

  5. #5 by JoAnne Bauer on March 8, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    yes, up with hope!

  6. #6 by Neil on March 8, 2012 - 10:38 pm

    Green! Stay strong!!!

  7. #7 by Anonymous on March 8, 2012 - 10:47 pm

    Wish I could be there for hugs and laughs this weekend – all my love to everyone – shannon and I have to go to LA to try and be with her family and extremely ill grandfather.

    But you better keep SLAPPIN’ THAT RASCAL whilst we are gone.


  8. #8 by Velina Brown on March 9, 2012 - 3:28 am

    Wonderful post. I think it’s fantastic that you and Greg are in a group with Bernie Siegel. That is bound to be very helpful. It seems like you all have set everything up to win. It reminds me of a quote from football coach Paul ” Bear” Bryant ” It’s not the will to win but the will to prepare to win that counts.”
    Hope is important but it doesn’t do much without the prep. You guys have it all in place.


  9. #9 by Anonymous on March 10, 2012 - 6:25 pm

    Tate..You keep on and keep on fighting this thing cause that is what it is…Just a thing…As long as I’ve known you ,you have ALWAYS faught hard for yourself and your beliefs…NO STOPPING NOW!!!
    So many loved ones are right there for you…You just gotta keep on keepin on..
    Love Ginny and Eddie

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