The Wizard of Oz: An Analogy of Hope Abounds

In this story, I relate the life of a cancer patient to Dorothy.  In the beginning, we find Dorothy, a very happy young woman who belonged to a wonderful hard working family that loved her deeply, but they were very busy with day to day demands.   She feels she is not being heard regarding a threat that has been made about her beloved dog Toto. This threat comes from the dreaded "Ms. Gulch" who is determined to bring harm and see to his demise. In our work, this threat would be the dreaded diagnosis of cancer for the many individuals we serve on a daily basis.

As Dorothy seeks to protect Toto, she makes a decision to run away, seeking wisdom, and someone with courage and heart to help her to protect what is very dear to her. Along that path she meets the traveling Professor Marvel who reminds her that she already has the wonderful support and love of family to help her.   He encourages her to go back home to those who care. Along the way, a violent tornado approaches and Dorothy in haste seeks protection from the threat in her home.  Often times when we experience catastrophic illness or troubles, we too want to run and hide because of the fear of the unknown. When an individual has been diagnosed with cancer, they find it difficult to express their feelings in a way that their family and friends will understand.  This is because they have always been the caregiver of the family and looking out for the family...but now who is going to be their support system through this difficult time?  

As Dorothy soon found her world turning upside down....spiraling around and around....she realizes that the house has landed in place that is foreign to her; for Dorothy it is "Munchkin Land" and for the patient it is the infusion room.  Dorothy steps out of the house to find a place that is silent and then she begins to hear voices and see people appear in an effort to praise her. Still very confused, she begins to think - "Where am I?" and “How do I return to the way things were?"  Slowly though, she begins to realize that these strangers are people she can trust to help her to start making her way back home. They told her she would need to seek the one person who could make her heart’s desire come true - “The Great and Mighty Oz in Emerald City!" Then they placed the beautiful "ruby red shoes" on her feet that would protect her along her way and began encouraging her as she made her first step on the Yellow Brick Road. This is where Hope Abounds steps in for the patient!  We come along side in the same way to assist and encourage as they face cancer treatment and its effects.  

As Dorothy began her journey, her support came together while traveling down the Yellow Brick Road...the Scarecrow joined her seeking a brain, the Cowardly Lion sought courage and last, the Tin Man who desired a heart.   Even though each one had their own wishes, they provided support and encouragement for each other! It is the mission of Hope Abounds to provide these same virtues… wisdom, courage and sharing our heart of compassion.

Often times fear is like the dreaded Wicked Witch and the cancer treatment can take its toll also.  Through the pain and suffering, one may want to give up at times. But as Dorothy had her support system through her new friendships, so do our patients.  We constantly stay in touch to encourage and assist them and their families.

Now, finally they all arrive at Emerald City!  Although it is joyous, regrettably, Dorothy and her friends learn that they have to defeat the Wicked Witch before she can return home.  Now the Wicked Witch was fear for Dorothy and her friends, but for the patient that fear becomes the cancer treatment and the potential effect of them emotionally, physically and financially.

As our patients endure the suffering to complete their chemotherapy and radiation treatments, possibly even surgery, they are surviving the same reality.  At the end of their treatment, they have done all they can do to destroy the cancer cells that have invaded their body ….. uninvited!

We all have to face enemies in our lives; in Dorothy’s case it was the witch… in our world, it's cancer.  

When Dorothy and her friends defeat the witch and return to the Great and Mighty Oz, he begins to explain to each one that the fulfillment of their wishes was within them all the time.  They just had to be encouraged to look within themselves to find what they were seeking all along. It is necessary for patients to take ownership of their cancer diagnosis in order to conquer it... then finally they can  "click their ruby red heels” and begin striving to live life - surrounded by those who love them and support the future that is before them….whatever that may be.

We want you to know that we at Hope Abounds not only "click our heels", but we applaud all of you who have faced your own "Wizard of Oz"  story. Or, maybe you are on your own Yellow Brick Road journey now and hopefully you will allow us  to join you. For Dorothy, her heart's desire became a reality as she awoke to find herself back at home with those she loved and missed….  for our patients, they too can find happiness that they have completed this "nightmare of a journey" and that they can leave this experience behind them and seek closure.  

In a story or a movie, you will always see the words…. "The End."   However, for Hope Abounds, you will always see the words “ the Beginning "  because each day our telephone rings and we have the wonderful opportunity to say "We are here for you “ - always keeping HOPE at the forefront for those who are getting ready to embark upon their own journey.  We hope you will join us to show your support for these very courageous individuals and their families.  

Together, we can provide a very strong community strength that can conquer and defeat the dreaded cancer diagnosis!

-Elizabeth Barnes, Hope Abounds Co-Founder, Executive Director and Patient Advocate

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