Imagine a World Without Cancer

A world without cancer would be a beautiful place! Is it wrong to hope for that to become a reality one day? One survivor shares her perspective.

For years, I’ve been told that I look at the world through rose-colored glasses. While this might seem to be an underhanded compliment, it’s extremely true of me. I am a self-made Pollyanna. I am always looking for the bright side of things because no matter the situation, there always seems to be some sort of positivity. For those who’ve never heard the term, “Pollyanna,” it comes from a children’s movie classic by Walt Disney. The term “Pollyanna” usually refers to someone who insists on looking at the brighter side of things even under adverse circumstances. In today’s world, it seems we esteem those who are matter of fact. Negativity seems to be the norm. People are always complaining. Most people aren’t normally cheerful and those who are idealistic and pleasant are often treated as an anomaly. For those who’ve never seen the motion picture, “Pollyanna,” it was released in 1960. It’s based on a novel written by Eleanor Porter in 1913. The story revolves around an orphaned girl named Pollyanna. Upon the death of her parents, Pollyanna is forced to live with her unhappy Aunt Polly. Pollyanna’s aunt lives in a town filled with negativity. When Pollyanna arrives, she brings her bright and cheerful disposition with her affecting change among the townsfolk. It’s a sweet film and ends on a positive note.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, as devastating as the news was to me, I slipped on my rose-colored glasses and began to look for something positive. As far-fetched as it might seem, especially in the middle of treatment, I daily found little things that lifted my spirits. Of course some days I had to look harder for those glimpses of hope, but as I looked, I found them.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word hope in this way: desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true. Hope is such a small word with gigantic meaning to those affected by cancer. Without it, we could never push through all the demands cancer places upon our lives. We want things to be better. We anticipate a good outcome.

But for what do most cancer victims hope? Surely, we hope for a cure to the horrible disease of cancer. We want nothing more than to see this dreaded disease eradicated. With rose colored glasses, look into the future and long for our children and grandchildren to thrive in a world untouched by cancer but what would a cancer free utopia look like? How would we cope if there were no more diagnoses, treatments, drugs or death? Would we be able to embrace life fully with gleeful abandon or would we walk with trepidation through life expecting a cancer free world too good to be true?

Some days I feel like John Lennon must have felt when he penned his famous song, “Imagine.” The words contained in his idealistic song caused all of us to do some intense soul searching. Although his song pertains to a world filled with peace and harmony, no greed or hunger, and a brotherhood of man, he had some valid hopes. He wanted the best for all of us. He hoped for positive change.

I can’t help but borrow a couple of lines from his song - “You may say I'm a dreamer…but I'm not the only one.” Yes, I wear my rose colored glasses most days. I’m always looking for the positive, but my hope for the future is that cancer will be completely eliminated. I also hope the statement “You have cancer,” will be forever removed from our vocabularies. Is that too much to hope for? I don’t think so.

According to the first stanza of one of Emily Dickinson’s famous poems, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” May we never stop hoping. Perhaps one day, our dreams can be imagined and we’ll live in a world that’s free from all forms of cancer. Until that day, I’m going to cling tightly to my rose colored glasses and if you’d like to look through them, I’ll gladly share. The world looks a whole lot nicer with a beautiful pinkish tint. Oh, and by the way, you can feel free to call me Pollyanna any day. I’ll take it as a compliment.