Cancer brings a number of obvious physical and emotional changes, but many cancer patients are unaware of the tremendous spiritual changes that can also accompany a journey with cancer.
It is not uncommon for people who have lived a spiritual life before cancer to find that their spiritual beliefs are changed or challenged after a diagnosis. Many cancer patients question, “why me?” and can experience feelings of betrayal, anger, and despair as a result of a cancer diagnosis. This type of faith questioning is common amongst cancer patients. If you find your once-strong spiritual beliefs faltering after a cancer diagnosis, try seeking support from other members of your religious community who have been through a battle with cancer before.
While a crisis of faith is a common reaction to a cancer diagnosis, there are also many positive emotions that can bring a spiritual focus to cancer patients. Some patients discover a renewed sense of joy in life and learn to appreciate things that may have gone overlooked before illness. Other cancer patients find spiritual satisfaction in forgiveness for past wrongs that seem unimportant in the face of cancer, while others opt to focus on gratitude for the things that make life worth living.
Spirituality isn’t just about religion. People can find inspiration in a connection with nature or with another person, or in just taking a quiet moment to focus on feeling peaceful or hopeful. If you think that a deeper spiritual life may help you find support and acceptance during your time with cancer, ask trusted friends and family members about their own beliefs and share your own. Or try keeping a journal, which is a great way to feed the spirit and begin to deal with the complex emotions a cancer patient experiences.
During cancer treatment, a patient’s physical well being is often the main focus, but it’s important to attend to a patient’s spiritual needs as well. When it comes to fighting cancer, patients need all the support they can get and spiritual guidance can often bolster the spirits and help patients find renewed strength.