Fantasizing about not dying

I’ve been fantasizing about not dying. I imagine ways in which I’m part of the 4% that live more than five years after a diagnosis like mine (stage 4 pancreatic cancer). I even imagine being part of the 50% who live more than nine months, rather than the 50% who do not.

I imagine hearing my oncologist tell me that the cancer has shrunk enough to be operable. And I imagine the operation and its recovery. I also imagine that the cancer just goes away and that my next CT scan simply cannot find my cancer anywhere. I imagine hearing from a pancreatic cancer researcher that they’ve identified the specific gene mutation for my cancer (whatever that means), and that they, by chance, have medicine specific for it. I imagine the scientists and doctors find a cure for cancer in the next nine months, and this cure is simple and easy enough to be implemented quickly and universally in our healthcare system.

I imagine that I wake up from a terrible nightmare. I imagine that this world is an illusion, that I am a brain in a vat, and when I “die”, I wake up in reality. I even imagine a heaven, where I’m up at the Pearly Gates explaining to God that there wasn’t enough evidence to believe in Him. I imagine being reincarnated as another human being, and that I get to enjoy living once more.

Is this what hope is? Fantasizing about unlikely possibilities? I know clearly that I want to live. I want to live much longer than what the odds tell me. But I don’t expect to. And I cannot plan my life around unlikely possibilities.

What is hope? Is it something between want and expectation? What does your mind do when you hope?