When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the first question is often focused on the medical treatment plan: Will I need surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or perhaps a combination of options? Such treatments are essential to fighting the cancer. Some patients have also found that a spiritual treatment plan helps prepare them for the road ahead—mind, body and spirit.
Cancer not only attacks you physically; it also tears at you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As a Chaplain at our hospital in Newnan, Georgia, I meet with patients and talk about the importance of staying spiritually strong. For many people, spiritual strength is critical in the fight against cancer. Spiritual strength can help you maintain a sense of hope, faith and courage in the face of the disease.
When battling cancer, you are going to need help from loved ones, friends, family, the medical community, and for some, the faith community and, yes, God. You cannot do this alone. A major step in getting strong spiritually is to make peace in three main areas of your life. First is to make peace with yourself. You did not cause this situation. Cancer does not discriminate; it does not care if you are a nice person, a healthy person, a Christian, non-Christian, young or old. Anyone can get cancer. So make peace with yourself and be gentle on yourself during the path ahead.
Next, make peace with others, spiritually if not in person. Forgive others and let go of past hurts and offenses. You do not have time to continue to invest in emotional pain that may be draining you spiritually. Let it go. Forgive and live. Then, make peace with God. God did not give you cancer. When I meet with patients, the “Why, God?” questions come up frequently. Asking why is a normal human question, but focusing on “Why, God?” can get you stuck and frustrated. Try to put that question on hold and make peace with God. It will help you move forward in your cancer journey and in life.
Finally, develop your own personal spiritual care plan. Feed your spirit. Feed your faith and not your fears. Your spiritual care plan may include:
- Practicing daily devotionals
- Meditating (quieting your spirit to hear God)
- Reading Scripture
- Finding a safe space to talk, vent feelings and cry with others
- Connecting with activities that lift your spirit, such as art therapy, music therapy, walks, laughter therapy and rest
Learn more about the spiritual support team helps patients through their cancer journey.