In my October 20 and November 19th posts I provided links to the first two essays of a 4-part series on managing uncertainty. In the November 25th issue of Oncology Times, you can read part 3, titled Managing Uncertainty: Hope.
Here's the problem: Patients' reactions to uncertainty may interfere with Healthy Survivorship.
In the introduction to the essay, I ask oncologists, "[W]hat if uncertainty causes your patient to delay needed chemotherapy or avoid checkups? What if your patient yearns for a cure at any price or begins each day feeling for lymph nodes?"
The key to helping patients is helping them manage their reactions to uncertainty.
Hope is a uniquely human experience that helps us deal with uncertainty. Defined as a positive emotion linked to positive thoughts and feelings about the future, patients' hopes are as unique as their fingerprints.
Friends and family may disagree about which hopes can help a particular patient. Even the patient may not know, needing guidance and support to figure out which hopes can help on the path to Healthy Survivorship.
To conclude, I suggest to clinicians, "Whenever you prescribe therapies, also guide your patients to hope—to relate to the future in life-enhancing ways. Even when hope cannot bring serenity, it can put boundaries around the haunting possibilities and motivate patients to live until they die."