For cancer patients who run out of treatment options, how can "letting go" help in the pursuit of Healthy Survivorship? How can it hurt?
To understand how "letting go can facilitate Healthy Survivorship," let's look at some definitions.
TO STOP TRYING TO CONTROL SOMETHING In the context of running out of treatment options, patients who've thrived on battle imagery may assume that "something" is their fight. So "letting go" means giving up, surrendering and losing the battle.
For other patients, the first "something" that comes to mind is cancer. If so, "letting go" means stopping trying to control their fate. Put another way, it means inviting uncontrolled cancer to kill them.
These two interpretations are not conducive to healing - to feeling whole again.
TO STOP HAVING OR OWNING SOMETHING You "let go" of your favorite flannel shirt by donating it. You "let go" of a grudge. Patients who run out of treatment options could easily assume the "something" they must stop having is the thing that has been hammered into them as a "must-have" when living with cancer: hope.
For these patients, "letting go" can feel like a stab to the heart, leading them to despair. Or they may get angry, silently daring anyone to pry from them the one thing -- hope -- they've clung to since their diagnosis.
Again, these are not conducive to healing.
Next: Letting Go Part IV