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At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we offer various spiritual support services to help cancer patients cope during their cancer care. Learn how our pastoral care team offers spiritual counseling, worship services, and other services to patients and their families at CTCA.
An Overview of Spirituality
The terms spirituality and religion are often used interchangeably. Spirituality has broad meaning. It can include an awareness of something greater than the individual self and beliefs about the meaning of life. Within the scope of spirituality is religion, which some people define as a specific set of beliefs and practices, usually within an organized group.
You may consider yourself as either spiritual or religious, neither, or both. Regardless of your personal beliefs, spirituality can be a source of peace, purpose, support and connectedness to others.
Spirituality in Cancer Care
Spirituality may become even more important during times of crisis, like a serious illness. A serious illness like cancer may challenge your beliefs and cause a great deal of distress. You may suffer a loss of faith and a feeling of hopelessness after being diagnosed. Getting in touch with your spirituality may help you better cope with the psychological and emotional affects of cancer. In fact, recent studies by researchers found a striking correlation between good spiritual health and good physical health.
Spiritual well-being may improve your quality of life in the following ways:
- Reduce anxiety, stress, depression and discomfort
- Promote a more positive outlook
- Stimulate self awareness and personal growth
- Promote feelings of hope and empowerment
- Reduce sense of isolation, loneliness
- Improve sense of belonging, connectedness to others
- Help find meaning in life and strengthen the will to live
- Overcome fear of death
- Promote a sense of inner peace
- Improve ability to cope with cancer treatments
Spiritual Support at CTCA
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) focuses on the whole-person impact of cancer and how the cancer experience affects people physically and emotionally, as well as spiritually. We recognize that faith often helps carry people through difficult times.
The pastoral care team at CTCA strives to provide a universal umbrella of spiritual support for patients and their family members. We reach across cultures, beliefs and religious backgrounds to address a broad spectrum of faiths. We work to create an environment where all patients, from any faith, can be strengthened, motivated and inspired to use spirituality to combat cancer, in conjunction with other cancer treatment modalities.
Spiritual Assessment and Plan
When you first arrive at CTCA, you will have the opportunity to meet with a member of our pastoral care team. Our chaplains will meet with you privately and/or with you and your family. They will work within your belief system to help you explore ways that spirituality can play a part in your healing. Some patients arrive not interested in spiritual support and later decide to pursue it. Whether or not you decide to seek spiritual support is completely up to you.
Based upon your preferences and identified needs, our pastoral care team will incorporate spiritual support into your overall cancer treatment plan. They will consult regularly with physicians and practitioners from other CTCA departments. They also meet as a team several times a week to discuss your needs. Upon your request, once you leave the hospital our chaplains will continue to maintain contact with you over the phone to provide prayer and/or counsel.
Spiritual Support Services at CTCA
Pastoral care at CTCA is divided into three main categories:
1. Assessment: Just as a physician compiles an assessment of your physical health and medical needs, our chaplains, through visits and conversations with you, complete an individual spiritual assessment for you as an in-patient. Throughout your care, our chaplains will interact regularly with other members of your care team to find ways to support you.
2. Direct Care: Our chaplains are available to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for visitation, counsel, prayer, patient rights issues, and grief and bereavement counseling. They can help you work through such issues as life values, suffering, healing, grief/loss, despair/hope, guilt/forgiveness, fear/peace and anger/acceptance. They respond to all patient emergencies to offer assistance and support to family members. They also hold classes and provide worship services and prayer time. If you would be more comfortable seeing clergy from your own faith affiliation, our chaplains will contact local clergy for you and help coordinate this visitation.
3. Extended Care: After you leave CTCA, we will continue to provide spiritual support by phone and through our spiritual outreach program and website, Our Journey of Hope®. Our chaplains are also available to speak to church groups about what CTCA has to offer, or about faith as it relates to cancer and health.
Voluntary programs and services
The pastoral care team at CTCA offers voluntary programs and services to both you and your family, including:
- New patient group orientation session
- Individual and group prayer
- Counseling by a faith representative of your choice
- Patient and caregiver classes that focus on healing, faith and life
- Pastoral comfort and support
- Assistance with developing advanced directives and/or living wills
- Family consultations
- Grief and bereavement counseling and referral
- Crisis intervention
- Taped ministry
- Support with end-of-life issues and decisions
- Interface and communication with your local pastor and church with your permission
- Telephone consultations with patients/family members
Our Journey of Hope® Program
In recognizing the importance of spiritual support for patients battling disease, CTCA offers a spiritual outreach program for cancer patients and their families, regardless of where you go for treatment. The Our Journey of Hope® Program has several components. The website provides cancer patients and their family members a spiritually supportive community, inspirational resources and access to spiritual support staff. Specifically, the website offers weekly devotionals, monthly sermons, cancer survivor testimonials, prayer support, an opportunity to connect with other people battling cancer, and articles on the connection between faith and healing.
Another component of the Our Journey of Hope® Program featured on the website is lay ministry training. Pastoral and clinical staff from CTCA travel nationwide to provide (free of charge) eight hours of training to church staff and congregants. The goal of this training is to help staff members become more effective in ministry to cancer patients and their families. For the churches and communities who complete the lay ministry training, Our Journey of Hope® offers evening seminars on cancer-related topics.
Learn More: Spiritual Care Tips
For helpful spiritual care tips during cancer treatment, read our August 2007 newsletter, featuring the role of spirituality in cancer. To subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter, visit the CancerCenter Newsletter Sign Up page today.