You are sitting in your doctor’s office listening to the doctor tell you that you have prostate cancer! Immediately, numbness and disbelief creep into your reality. Over time, the news sinks in and you begin to understand the diagnosis, you have cancer. Your world has been changed and will never be the same. All of a sudden, the major focus of your world is learning about prostate cancer, deciding on a treatment, having the treatment and then struggling to deal with the many harsh side effects. Prostate cancer quickly becomes your major focus; prostate cancer becomes your world.

Those of us who have a recurrence of prostate cancer will again repeat the same experience of having our world flipped head over heels. Life as we knew it will again change, leaving us in a strange new world full of questions, fear, doubt and often depression.

How do we get through these life shattering upheavals? I believe that it is only with faith and hope that we can go on living our life. Without faith and hope, we would just wilt away. Faith and hope are powerful; they keep us looking forward, into the future. Faith and hope allow us to get out of bed in the morning and live our life.

Initially, when we first learn about the diagnosis we hope that the cancer was caught early. After learning about a recurrence, we hope that we will respond well to the treatments and be among the lucky to have a long survival time without a lot of side effects and pain. We have faith that our doctors will truly be artists and will guide us to use all the tools, both approved and not approved, to give us an extended and pain free life. We each hope that we will be that individual that defies all records and astonishes the experts.

Each morning we hope for a good day and each night we have faith that tomorrow will come and we will be around to participate.

Faith and hope are inseparable and both are necessary to a cancer survivor. Hope is our dream for a favorable outcome and faith is our unwavering trust that we will have a favorable outcome. Without hope, there cannot be faith and without faith, we cannot have hope. Faith needs hope and hope allows us to have faith.

When a cancer survivor loses their faith and hope, depression quickly permeates their existence. Depression often follows a cancer diagnosis, but faith and hope beats back depression. Depression is nothing but a sign that faith and hope have been abandoned. The sickness we feel from the treatments, the pain we experience from the cancer and drudgery of waiting in a hospital waiting room can wear us down and destroy our faith and hope. We need to find ways to restore our faith and hope.

Friends, families and support groups are great vehicles to help us to bolster our faith and hope. Spending time with people who expect you to get better can rekindle your confidence and allow our faith, and hope to re-grow.

Joel T Nowak M.A., M.S.W.