The power of hope for those affected by ALS

Holding on to hope can benefit both patients and caregivers, this columnist says

James Clingman avatar

by James Clingman |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for James Clingman's column

A widely used saying in the English lexicon, “Hope springs eternal,” was coined by the poet Alexander Pope to simply suggest that hope is always available to us. It means a great deal to patients with rare, fatal diseases and our loved ones to know that hope is ever-present in our lives.

ALS is a condition that tests hope. Because it relentlessly attacks the body, from time to time, we may be tempted to do what Dante ominously wrote in his “Divine Comedy”: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

When I was diagnosed, I almost abandoned hope because of the doctor’s nonchalant manner. I thought I’d be gone in six months. So the first lesson in hope can be taught in how the doctor breaks the news.

Other lessons include the knowledge that someone is working on our behalf to find answers to our dilemma, the encouragement, the support from family and friends, the access to other ALS patients via support groups and online meetings, and the manner in which we live our lives.

Recommended Reading
ALS News Today | Main graphic for

Awaiting the ‘Hope Begets Hope’ Aria

A major reservoir of hope resides in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the legislative branch of our government. If not approved by authoritative entities, all advances and possible remedies for ALS will continue to languish in limbo. Trials, new treatments, and funds are essential to ALS patients’ hopes and must be accelerated.

Since I just made a reference to my last column (“Sending out an SOS for ALS advocacy and support“), let me reemphasize two words I used in that piece: initiate and sustain. Efforts that could lead to positive outcomes must be started and continued. ALS victims can take a lot of hope from that.

ALS patients and those who have similar diseases have two basic choices: We can elect to maintain our hope, or we can abandon all hope. I have chosen the former, but I certainly understand why others choose the latter. This is a horrible disease. It can kill the patient and the caregiver. With hope, however, we can find a modicum of solace, even just day to day.

With hope there is abundance; without hope there is scarcity. With hope there is work; without hope there is complacency. With hope there is peace; without hope there is chaos. With hope there is delight; without hope there is disdain. With hope there is strength; without hope there is faintness.

This column is not just for victims of ALS, but for their families as well. Do everything you can to assure one another that you still have the power of hope, even when things are at their lowest point.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.