Spiritual Wellness for Those with Cancer
Guest Blog Post written by Scott Sanders of cancerwell.org
Cancer is the second most common fatal disease in the United States, just behind heart disease. The incidences of death from cancer have gone down in the last 15 years. Still, it’s been estimated that there would be 1,735,350 new cases diagnosed, and 609,640 deaths from cancer in 2018 alone. If you are one of the millions of people with cancer, it’s important to follow the advice of your oncologist, but it’s also critical to attend to your self-care and spiritual wellness. Here are some tips on how to start.
Only professional medical assistance will effectively and safely address your cancer diagnosis, identify problems, and help you recover. The National Cancer Institute makes clear on its website that many different treatments for cancer exist. These include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, and precision medicine, among others. That array of options is bewildering.
Even more confusing, each procedure comes with its own side effects and works to reach varying medical goals. So, talk to your doctor about which one is right for you to get the best results possible.
Effects of Cancer
The emotional and psychological effects of being diagnosed with cancer are immense. Guilt, deep anxiety, shock or disbelief,fear and uncertainty, sadness or depression, or feelings of isolation,vulnerability, or hopelessness are all common reactions. Frequently, the pain that people experience disrupts their sleep, and the medication that they’re prescribed keeps them up at night. Additionally, they’re often irritable and their appetite changes. If the condition worsens, so does their outlook and self-esteem. Some people may even think of themselves as“diseased,” or worry that they won’t live much longer.
For all these reasons, it’s crucial that you attend to your own self-care. A hot topic for an ancient concept; “self-care” is the practice of identifying your true needs and then satisfying them. That doesn’t mean gratifying each of your desires.Instead, it’s more akin to applying the Golden Rule to yourself. Here are some concrete examples of weaving self-care into your daily routine:
- Unplug from your device and sit outside and listen to the world around you.
- Wake up early and walk through a scenic place near your home.
- Try a supplement like CBD oil to help with anxiety or nausea (with your doctor’s blessing, of course).
- Take a warm, relaxing bath or shower.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Declutter your house.Sometimes our stuff can weigh us down more than we realize.
- Sleep. A restful sleep restores us, motivates us, and gives us more natural and healthy energy than any dose of caffeine.
- Incorporate healthy foods into your diet, which can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. If that’s not easy, find some smoothie recipes and put a blender to work so you can have quick access to wholesome foods.
People diagnosed with a serious disease like cancer often find themselves asking questions like, “What’s it all for?” or,“What does my life mean?” In situations like this, spirituality often helps people wrestling with the ultimate questions of mortality. Some studies have shown that cultivating spiritual wellness decreases anxiety, anger, and depression among cancer patients. Plus, it can ease loneliness, lower blood pressure, and lessen pain and discomfort. Others find comfort in seeking the seasoned advice of a rabbi,a priest, an imam, or any other leader in their religious community.
To reiterate: Professional medical care is the only effective means to combat cancer. At the same time, you are not simply a bundle of physical ailments. You also have a personality — a soul that you need to keep whole, happy, and content. If spirituality helps calm your mind or soften your sense of disquiet, then seek it out. Undergoing treatment for cancer is one of the most difficult things we can face, so do whatever you canto strengthen your resolve to beat cancer once and for all.
Scott Sanders is the creator of CancerWell.org,which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer.
Image via Unsplash