In quiet moment on the couch, I recently asked my 8-year old daughter what the word “hope” means to her. “If life were a meal, hope belongs in the steak,” she said.
The food metaphor didn’t surprise me, as with most kids her age, she thinks about it a lot. What did interest me was that, in her view, hope takes center stage. It’s not the cupcake for dessert. Or a sweet milk shake, or potato chips. To kids, hope is serious stuff, right smack in the middle of the main meal. Just a hunch, but I am convinced most adults would not put it there.
A Telling Telephone Call
He called from Kentucky. Having read about our recent research story about obtaining grant funding to build an artificial testicle, he wanted to know more. As a cancer survivor, he had no chance of fathering a child. He asked great questions about where the research was going and the expected time line for generating sperm from stem cells. I answered frankly as I am not a fan of dangling carrots or pipe dreams in front of others. He listened intently and thanked me kindly. I asked him to keep in touch, and that was that.
Little did he know such brief but meaningful conversations stokes my fire and fuels me to imagine, begin, execute and finish such far-fetched research projects.
Little did I know how that single, brief exchange also affected him. The next day, the Clinic received a new Yelp review (don’t get me started on this…just compare the visible reviews on the page with the invisible “filtered” accessed at the bottom). Curious, I read it. It blew me away. It went something like this (edited for brevity):
“H-O-P-E; that’s what Dr. Turek has given me; new found hope…..” After a 16-year nightmare with testicular cancer, once in 1996 and again in 2002, a good friend of mine forwarded me the most shocking, exciting, uplifting, inspiring article I had EVER read. I anxiously and carefully read it word for word, line for line, as I could not believe what my eyes were reading and my mind was comprehending. My instinct, was to call Dr. Turek’s office immediately as I was yearning for more information.”
“After talking with his office staff, a phone conference was scheduled for Dr. Turek and I within the next 3 days…Dr. Turek gave me “me” and he gave the rest of the testicular cancer world a vision that we never imagined possible… I will strive daily to do everything in my power to assist Dr. Turek in seeing this miracle discovery come to life. I will do whatever, whenever, whereever it takes to be a part of this life changing miracle. I am inspired, encouraged, and relieved with the hope of tomorrow for me and for others.”
For the first time in years, the man from Kenucky felt a ray of hope. And in some small way, his life is different today than yesterday.
Hope not Hype
So what is it about being an adult that takes the hope out of our “steak?” Why do long, strong doses of reality make it harder to dream the unimaginable? There is so much promise in hope that I, for the record, refuse to give it up. I agree with the old French Proverb that “hope is the dream of a soul awake.” You can expect more of the unimaginable out of me before my time is up on this good earth.