Focus on Possibilities, not Prognosis


Hope makes difficult bearableMaintaining a hopeful outlook is one of the traits The American Psychology Association identifies as being important to resilience. (

Sounds easy and simplistic, doesn’t it?

We know it isn’t.

It is possible. Even in the most difficult of circumstances.

When my husband was faced with battling a Stage IV brain tumor we decided to focus on the possibilities, not the prognosis. No, we weren’t denying that he had a tumor and the prognosis was that it was terminal. We just intentionally chose to focus on the possibility that his body and the new groundbreaking medications he was taking would have positive results.

Last year when my great nephew fell from a roof and suffered a traumatic brain injury his Mom was told by doctors that they couldn’t predict the outcome. He might not walk, talk or remember again. She sat beside his bed every day while he was in a coma talking to him as if he could hear and understand. When anyone would go into the “ain’t it awful” mode she’d say, “He’s alive!” Every day she chose to focus on any improvement he made, no matter how small.

In both cases we made a conscious decision as to what we’d focus on. Some doctors are cautious and don’t want to give ‘false hope’ in dire situations. Dr. Bernie Siegel, Author of Love, Medicine & Miracles says that there’s no such thing as false hope. There’s hope and the absence of hope.

My husband didn’t survive. My nephew not only survived; he made an amazing recovery and astonished the doctors and therapist at every level.

In both cases I’m glad we were focused on the possibilities. Maintaining a hopeful outlook made every day and every stage of the situations easier to bear.

One think I learned is that in any situation I’d rather die with hope than to live without it! Hope makes even the most difficult days bearable.


Myra McElhaney is an author and speaker. Her memoir, Building A Life You Love After the Love of Your Life is available on Visit for additional information about Myra’s speaking and writing.




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