Focusing on Hope


The St. Jude staff believes that hope is essential to life. Hope can directly affect the well-being of young patients by helping them make the best of difficult moments. It can also help them make sense of having a serious illness. Dreams, wishes, and goals point toward today or the future, and hope is what drives those thoughts. Without hope each day can seem uncertain or even scary. Having hope, for themselves or others, helps children and teens cope with hardships.

Hope is different from dreams and wishes. The Webster's Student Dictionary defines a dream as "a mental image or a fancy." Wishes are defined as "desires or longings for some definite item or condition" (Webster's, 1996). Sometimes dreams and wishes cannot be attained because they are not realistic.

The St. Jude HOPE Research Translation Team has defined hopefulness as a personal, comforting and sustaining belief that life has meaning even in difficult times. It is also a belief that something good can happen for you or for others. Hopefulness is inside each of us. It can be influenced in both good and bad ways by those around us. Suffering and feeling alone or unappreciated can make it hard to focus on hope.

Some factors that help us to be hopeful include:

  • Believing in yourself,
  • Trusting the good intentions of others,
  • Faith in God, and
  • Being close to others.

If St. Jude staff members know what patients and their families are hoping for, then they can direct their care toward matching those hopes.

Physical and emotional benefits of increased hope

  • Gives an overall sense of contentment
  • Improves outlook and attitude
  • Provides basis for visions and goals
  • Helps give meaning to life
  • Increases ability to adjust to changing conditions
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Improves ability to solve problems
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Increases active involvement in the recovery process (example: patients performing their own mouth care and rehabilitation exercises)

Ways to encourage hope

In your child:

  • Find activities that keep your child in touch with friends and family—making a list of friends and family, writing letters, sending e-mail or calling them.
  • Help your child manage anxiety by finding out how much he wants to know about his disease and treatments.
  • Make time for fun—rent a favorite movie, go to a ball game, eat favorite foods, encourage play time, etc.
  • Ask your child, "What are you hoping for today?"
  • Ask your child, "What makes you feel the best?" Remember: You are your child’s greatest supporter.
  • Encourage your child to take part in the treatment plan. For example, your child can help with making some decisions or help change the dressing on a central venous line.
  • Focus on your child’s abilities rather than disabilities.
  • Help your child make friends within the St. Jude family.
  • Encourage your child to keep doing schoolwork and to continue thinking about future education and career goals.

In yourself:

  • Ask yourself, "What am I hoping for today?"
  • Keep a daily journal or notebook. Each day, write two things that were good today and one hope for tomorrow.
  • Learn about your child’s illness and treatment. It will help reduce your anxiety of the unknown.
  • Remember to add some humor to each day. Laughter is a good cure-all for the "blues."
  • Seek support and make new friends within the St. Jude family.
  • Make time for fun activities and pamper yourself—rent a favorite movie, go to a ball game, eat favorite foods, get a haircut, manicure or massage, etc. A short break can improve your outlook.
  • Call the HOPE Hotline at ext. 4999 (595-4999) for a daily dose of hopeful insights.

Hope resources

St. Jude employees can help you find the resources that you need. The hospital campus also has several quiet places where you can sit and think quietly:

  • The Patient Care Center Chapel, located near the south waiting area, is open 24 hours a day.
  • The Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion Chapel is available when the pavilion is open—Sunday through Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The pavilion is closed on holidays.
  • The Danny Thomas Memorial Garden is located behind the pavilion and has the same operating hours.
  • The Linda R. Hajar Family Resource Center, located on the second floor of the Patient Care Center, is open 24 hours a day.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).