Wage hope

Wage Hope was the battle cry at the recent Purple Stride Pancreatic Cancer walk in Detroit. Hundreds of people who have been touched by pancreatic cancer declared their commitment to hope. Tears came to my eyes as I joined the crowd in shouting Wage Hope.

I was there with Marlene’s Marchers, a team formed to honor my cousin Marlene who died from pancreatic cancer five years ago. Her siblings, children and grandchildren come together for this event under a poster bearing Marlene’s picture. She is smiling in the picture, taken during her last visit with her family and only months before her death.

Waging hope in the face of a deadly disease might seem incongruous and even futile. Hope for what?

Some of the talk at this event was of hope for a cure. The full slogan for Purple Stride is: Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it. This event raises money for research, but for many of the people standing on that football field, the research did not pay off in time for their loved ones.

Still they come, we come. Even after death, we hope. This sea of dark purple t-shirts bears witness to hope—t-shirts adorned with small placards displaying names and photos of loved ones.

We honor the memories of those who lost their battles and support those in treatment. We raise money to fund research. We continue to hope.

I work in a cancer support organization, and this week I attended a breakfast sponsored by a local cancer center. Two doctors—one a researcher and the other a clinician—talked about their roles in developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer.

The program included a testimonial from a man who has pancreatic cancer and is participating in an experimental protocol. He was diagnosed almost two years ago, and his story was inspirational. He is working full-time and seems the picture of health. He is living with pancreatic cancer rather than dying from it.

My cousin also went through experimental protocols and I admired her determination. I don’t think I would have the courage to subject myself to what she went through. But, her willingness—and her hope—advanced the cause for others, like the man at the breakfast.

Pancreatic cancer may claim lives but it cannot erase the memory of those who lived nor can it rob us of hope. I am so grateful that my cousin’s family includes me in Marlene’s Marchers and that we get together to honor Marlene’s memory, to applaud her courage and to witness to hope.

P.S. As I was working on this piece, a friend called to share good news. She had received a card from someone who had been lost to her, someone she had long been hoping to hear from. After years of no communication, a card arrived. Her hopes were fulfilled, and her situation reminded me how God can do more than we ever imagine or hope for. (Ephesians 3:20-21)  Wage hope.

6 thoughts on “Wage hope

  1. Swoosieque

    Excellent thoughts you shared here, I was especially touched by the words, “He is living with pancreatic cancer rather than dying from it.” My son is currently “living” with pc, fighting for his life. Since hearing of his diagnosis, I have been ravishing medical journals and information from reputable research facilities which has encouraged my faith that science IS working toward a cure, instead of a deadly “bandage” such as chemo. I do believe that within the next generation, a cure will be found, or at least a way to manage living longer with quality.

    Thanks again for a great post!

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      It sometimes seems to me that science is taking the slow road to cures for cancer, but I know I have limited vision. Every day I meet people who have either been cured or are living with cancer as a chronic disease. I know that twenty or thirty or fifty years ago, their stories would have been markedly different. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. annemarielom

    Pope Francis talks of “Waging Peace”. Your piece on Waging Hope follows that same thought. Hope, like peace, can’t be attained by passive living. We work, we pray, we advocate, we continue to use every human resource and we trust God’s guidance. It is no small deed to pursue goodness!

  3. Madeline Bialecki

    Thanks Anne Marie. It is no small deed to pursue goodness, and yet, it is also not difficult. It is like stepping into a river and allowing the current (of God’s guidance and love) to carry us along.

  4. JustinSchaefer6688

    Beautiful Madeline. In every life situation there is an invitation to hope. I know for me sometimes if I don’t have an outlook of hope, how easy it is to fall into despair and rejection. Thanks for sharing your moving witness!

  5. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Thanks Justin, Working with people who have been touched by cancer (and from my own cancer journey) I am coming to see more and more how vital hope is–not necessarily hope that someone who has cancer will be cured, but just hope–for reconciliation and peace and contentment. Creating and sustaining hopefulness gives witness to God’s loving presence.


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