Lori's Hope: A Q and A with Lori
The UW Carbone Cancer Center is pleased to welcome acclaimed author, Lori Hope, on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Hope is author of Help Me Live: 20 Things People With Cancer Want You to Know, a newly-released, revised and expanded book.
Hope recently previewed her upcoming appearance at "Shine A Light."
Why did you feel motivated to write your book 20 Things People With Cancer Want You To Know for people on their cancer journey?
When I was first diagnosed, I was struck and deeply moved by how many people truly yearned to help. But often their words didn't have the intended effect.
As a lung cancer patient, I found that people often asked, almost reflexively, whether I smoked. Sometimes they blurted out that their great Aunt Hilda died of lung cancer. Knowing that people with cancer need hope and compassion more than anything, I decided to use this experience to help others down the line, and offer words that cancer patients aren't comfortable offering themselves. I did this by interviewing and surveying hundreds of survivors, health and communications professionals, and caregivers and telling their stories.
What do you feel has been the biggest advance in recent years regarding support for cancer patients or research?
In terms of support for cancer patients, one of the biggest advances is in how entertainment media treat cancer. The new "cancer comedy", 50/50, is an example. It's neither maudlin nor saccharine, and takes a good long look at what forms of support are most helpful, opening hearts and minds through tickling the funny bone. It's beautiful that this movie targets young people, who will ultimately bring this issue to the fore, in the media and in their own communities.
Also, television series such as Breaking Bad, The Big C, Desperate Housewives, and even Bored to Death feature cancer survivors who survive and thrive. They engage viewers, encourage conversation, and foster hope. In terms of research, the advances of molecular testing and personalized medicine are huge. There is so much more hope today. But still, early detection is key.
What are you hoping to do through your appearance at the "Shine A Light" Vigil event this year on November 3?
First, inspire hope, through my personal story (which contains more than a little humor!) and others'; second, inspire understanding, by sharing surprising and compelling information; and third, inspire action, which is often as simple as making a phone call to a Congressperson. (Of course I never pressure individuals who are still rendered vulnerable by cancer and who may not have regained their strength to take action.)
Do you have any words of advice for anyone recently diagnosed to keep them positively motivated as they receive cancer treatment?
Surround yourself with loving and supportive friends and family; protect yourself from frightening news; consider what you really want and need so that when people ask, "How can I help?" you can give them something to do; know that it's okay to have down days, and that your spirits will surely lift again, but that if it becomes too difficult to look up, seek professional help as well as extra support from your loved ones.
I became depressed after treatment, and thankfully was helped tremendously by medication, a post-treatment support group, and a wonderful circle of loving friends, family, and colleagues. And finally, find a way to laugh. The top statement people with cancer want others to know is "I need to laugh - or just forget about cancer for a while." Check out my website - lorihope.com - for some great humor resources.