Deepen Your Spiritual Connection
Spirituality is a personal search for meaning and purpose in life, which may or may not be related to religion. It entails connection to self-chosen and or religious beliefs, values, and practices that give meaning to life, thereby inspiring and motivating individuals to achieve their optimal being. This connection brings faith, hope, peace, and empowerment. The results are joy, forgiveness of oneself and others, awareness and acceptance of hardship and mortality, a heightened sense of physical and emotional well-being, and the ability to transcend beyond the infirmities of existence (study).
In cancer care, being spiritual can have a powerful positive effect on your outcome. Researchers with the Washington University School of Medicine have found that ovarian cancer patients had less stress and depression plus lower levels of certain factors related to tumor growth.
This study says:
Studies have indicated a significant relationship between spirituality and quality of life. Having a strong sense of spirituality helps patients adjust to and cope with illness.
Cancer patients report their spirituality helps them find hope, gratitude, and positivity in their cancer experience, and that their spirituality is a source of strength that helps them cope, find meaning in their lives, and make sense of the cancer experience as they recover from treatment. Spiritual well-being has been associated with lower levels of distress and greater quality of life across life expectancy prognoses. Spirituality can therefore be a resource of strength for patients.
This study concluded: Results of the current meta-analysis suggest that greater Religion/Spirituality is associated with better patient-reported physical health.
This study says Spiritual issues play a prominent role for patients with cancer. Studies have demonstrated a positive connection between a patient’s spirituality and health outcomes, including quality of life, depression and anxiety, hopefulness, and the ability to cope with illness.
In this study, data were drawn from 101 unique samples encompassing over 32,000 patients. The study concluded:
Results of the current meta-analysis suggest that greater religion/spirituality is associated with better patient-reported physical health.
Finding Comfort in Spirituality
Source: National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Spiritual practices that may help you cope with your cancer and its treatments include:
- Praying alone or with someone else
- Having someone else pray for you
- Meditative breathing
- Reading scripture or other holy works
- Saying one passage from your religious tradition over and over again like a mantra
- Using the language of your religion, such as Hebrew, Arabic, or Latin, in your prayers
- Listening to classical or spiritual music
- Talking about spiritual matters with another
During times of pain and discomfort, during treatments, or when you feel alone, these and other practices can help take you mentally to another place where you feel whole, connected, and at peace.
How Religious and Spiritual Beliefs Relate to Cancer Patients’ Physical, Mental, and Social Well-Being
Research reveals that most individuals with cancer have religious and spiritual beliefs, or derive comfort from religious and spiritual experiences. But what impact does this have on patients’ health?
“A Meta-Analytic Approach to Examining the Correlation between Religion/Spirituality and Mental Health in Cancer.”
Research reveals that most individuals with cancer have religious and spiritual beliefs, or derive comfort from religious and spiritual experiences. But what impact does this have on patients’ health? Recent analyses of all published studies on the topic—which included more than 44,000 patients—shed new light on the associations of religion and spirituality with cancer patients’ mental, social, and physical well-being. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the analyses indicate that religion and spirituality have significant associations with patients’ health, but there was wide variability among studies regarding how different dimensions of religion and spirituality relate to different aspects of health.
In the first analysis, investigators focused on physical health. Patients reporting greater overall religiousness and spirituality also reported better physical health, greater ability to perform their usual daily tasks, and fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment. “These relationships were particularly strong in patients who experienced greater emotional aspects of religion and spirituality, including a sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as a connection to a source larger than oneself,” said lead author Heather Jim, PhD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Dr. Jim noted that patients who reported greater cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality, such as the ability to integrate the cancer into their religious or spiritual beliefs, also reported better physical health; however, physical health was not related to behavioral aspects of religion and spiritualty, such as church attendance, prayer, or meditation.
In the second analysis, the researchers examined patients’ mental health. The team discovered that the emotional aspects of religion and spirituality were more strongly associated with positive mental health than behavioral or cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality. “Spiritual well-being was, unsurprisingly, associated with less anxiety, depression, or distress,” said lead author John Salsman, PhD, who conducted the research while at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, but is now at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem. “Also, greater levels of spiritual distress and a sense of disconnectedness with God or a religious community was associated with greater psychological distress or poorer emotional well-being.”
The third analysis pertained to social health, or patients’ capacity to retain social roles and relationships in the face of illness. Religion and spirituality, as well as each of its dimensions, had modest but reliable links with social health. “When we took a closer look, we found that patients with stronger spiritual well-being, more benign images of God (such as perceptions of a benevolent rather than an angry or distant God), or stronger beliefs (such as convictions that a personal God can be called upon for assistance) reported better social health,” said lead author Allen Sherman, PhD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. “In contrast, those who struggled with their faith fared more poorly.”
Religious and spiritual values are important to patients coping with cancer.
Source: The website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)
It is not known for sure how spirituality and religion are related to health. Some studies show that spiritual or religious beliefs and practices create a positive mental attitude that may help a patient feel better and improve the well-being of family caregivers. Spiritual and religious well-being may help improve health and quality of life in the following ways.
- Decrease anxiety, depression, anger, and discomfort.
- Decrease the sense of isolation (feeling alone) and the risk of suicide.
- Decrease alcohol and drug abuse.
- Lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
- Help the patient adjust to the effects of cancer and its treatment.
- Increase the ability to enjoy life during cancer treatment.
- Give a feeling of personal growth as a result of living with cancer.
- Increase positive feelings, including:
- Hope and optimism.
- Freedom from regret.
- Satisfaction with life.
- A sense of inner peace.Spiritual and religious well-being may also help a patient live longer.
Spiritual distress may also affect health.
Spiritual distress may make it harder for patients to cope with cancer and cancer treatment. Health care providers may encourage patients to meet with experienced spiritual or religious leaders to help deal with their spiritual issues. This may improve their health, quality of life, and ability to cope.
Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds
Kelly Turner, PhD, a researcher who specializes in integrative oncology, studied one hundred cancer survivors and analysed over one thousand cases of people who experienced a “radical remission” from “incurable” cancer. She found that these people did not sit around waiting for a miracle, but made significant changes in their lives. Dr Kelley found nine healing factors common among all of the cases she studied. These nine key factors are:
- Radically changing your diet
- Taking control of your health
- Following your intuition
- Using herbs and supplements
- Releasing suppressed emotions
- Increasing positive emotions
- Embracing social support
- Deepening your spiritual connection
- Having strong reasons for living
See more at www.RadicalRemission.com.