In 'Star Wars' and in Cancer, ‘Rebellions Are Built on Hope’


In part of the “Star Wars” saga, a character mentions that rebellions are built on hope. After being diagnosed with cancer, I’ve realized that the same is true for patients with the disease.

“Star Wars” is my favorite movie series of all time. I love the characters, the plot, the action and the winding down of each storyline where, despite the odds, we’re always left with a feeling of hope.

Hope has been a foundational message in “Star Wars.” While subtle in some of the movies, it’s front and center in “A New Hope,” which tells the story of Luke and Han saving the galaxy and Princess Leia (who we can now recognize as a warrior who didn’t need “saving”). Several decades later, hope reemerges in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” where a once-skeptical Jyn gets on board to steal the plans for the Death Star, telling others in doubt that“rebellions are built on hope.” 

Cancer patients and survivors are also rebels who have to find hope. We rise in opposition to our bodies turning on us and we dig deep to access resiliency to pursue survival. We’re tougher than we think but of course it’s not really a choice. We are forced to find resilience and to fight back against our compromised health, becoming educated in language and options in front of us that we wish we didn’t have to learn about. We resist becoming a statistic or being marginalized as just a patient ID number.

Even our biggest supporters and caregivers don’t always understand the depths of pain, fear, worry and anxiety we feel. It’s important to recognize that their wounds are just as real and they’ve got different battles to face. But just like any other trauma, I don’t think you can truly understand what it’s like to have cancer unless you have lived through the experience yourself.

I’ve been working since I was 13 and in the business world, they’ll tell you hope is not a strategy to rely on for success. There is absolute truth in this. Hope won’t get your new product launched or that promotion you want without someone recognizing your talents.

But when it comes to our personal lives, hope is one tool of many that should live in our cancer toolbox. Whether you’re a patient, survivor, caregiver or friend, hoping for the future, for good news, for new beginnings, is a support mechanism that can absolutely keep us going even when we’re at our lowest.

I tend to be a worrier. I think the worst is going to happen in an attempt to make it less painful when the moment of truth arrives. But amidst that anxiety, I always have a sliver of hope that maybe, it’s not going to be as bad as I think it is. And when it comes to the current cadence of my six-month CT scans to check for my very aggressive, rare neuroendocrine cancer, I hang on to that hope as my literal lifeline.

Hope can be found in many places. I find it listening to the birds whistle to each other as I walk by. I see it in daily sunrises and sunsets reminding me that no matter what, the world keeps on turning. And I see it in other cancer patients and survivors who fight hard and keep smiling through all of it, inspiring me to become more like them.

Wherever and however it shows up, hope reminds us that even when it’s dark, there’s also light. And that no matter where we are in our cancer journey, finding hope within and from those around us can help make every moment that’s hard, just a little bit easier.

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