Spirituality is important. Many people turn to spirituality when they receive a cancer diagnosis because it gives them something to believe in, and comforts them during what for some is an overwhelming time. Spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean patients become religious, but rather discover and nurture a sense of peace, purpose and a connection to others. When a person explores their spirituality they explore their thoughts and beliefs about the meaning of life. Some people express themselves through organized religion, but to be spiritual one does not have to be religious, or in many cases they can be both.
A cancer diagnosis can cause both patients and caregivers spiritual distress, or is seen as a punishment by a higher power. Studies show that spiritual and health are related; however ongoing research is still being conducted. It is possible that spiritual or religious beliefs create a positive mental state that helps patients feel better and improve their quality of life. Caregivers can also benefit from discovering spiritual wholeness, as it takes a special kind of person to care for someone with cancer.
One thing is for certain – spirituality does help with depression, which is often common in patients diagnosed with cancer. Many patients experience a decreased sense of isolation, and have commented that when they feel like someone is there going with them through their treatments they feel less depressed and can fight harder to overcome their diagnosis. It has also been shown to decrease alcohol and drug abuse in many cancer patients.
The personal growth that comes with developing a greater sense of spirituality has helped many patients overcome cancer. Hope and optimism are something that cancer can never take away, and these patients find a newfound freedom with spirituality. They are free from regret, are much more satisfied with life and radiate a sense of inner peace.