Even looking at the word on a computer screen can cause an odd mix of feelings. This is especially true if you are coping with a canine cancer diagnosis.
If there was ever a double-edged sword, hope is it. On one hand, allowing yourself to feel hope can turbocharge your abilities and motivation. On the other hand, hope can entrap you in a fantasy attachment to a fake reality that does not happen.
How is one supposed to steer through these muddy waters?
Just for a minute, let’s turn our attention to some background on the subject of hope.
The Greek myth of Pandora describes her curiously opening a jar which releases all of the evils of mankind into the world. However, the myth points out that hope was left in the jar.
It is interesting that hope was found in the jar of evils in the first place ( by the way, Pandora’s ” jar” was turned into a “box” long after the ancient Greeks were gone).
Hope is evil? Well, hope might be seen as creating the torture of disappointed dreams. Perhaps you are familiar with this torture in your path through dog cancer.
On the other hand, the Greek’s hope was left inside Padora’s jar, not being released at all. Perhaps this means that the hope we have in the world is not evil after all (with the evil one contained in Pandora’s jar). Maybe our hope powers accomplishment. Hope could be used to fuel a pursuit for better treatments, attention to detail, diet, life quality enrichment, supplements, and all of the steps in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
How to avoid the evil hope left in Pandora’s jar? How to avoid the torture of disappointed fantasy dreams? How to allow yourself to hope for a good outcome for your dog while avoiding blindness to reality?
Here is the key. People who doggedly (sorry about the pun) hit their head against immovable objects usually have their reason for it. Those who insist in living in fantasy worlds (which produces about as much real-life change as hitting your head against bricks) are usually avoiding some pain or fear.
This next bit is amazing. By taking some time (minutes, hours, days, or whatever is needed) to intentionally experience the pain and fear, we will automatically shift, becoming more present and capable. It is like a circuit breaker pops. A useful way to actually do this (as opposed to reading about it on this blog post, which will have little effect), is to write down this question:
“What bad things might happen to me if my dog has cancer?”
Then write down all the answers you can for as long as you can. Don’t lose focus, keep at it, and keep at it some more! Pay attention to all aspects, including both the external world and internal experiences.
By allowing ourselves to stop avoiding, we stop creating false hope. I believe false hope is the one left in Pandora’s box, because we got the real one here on Earth!
May real hope be used to restore your power, competence, resilience, creativity, and your ability to manage the tempest of dog cancer.
Thinking of you,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.