While many advances have been made over the years to lower the risk of, diagnose and treat breast cancer, there is still a need to treat not just the body, but the mind and spirit; as well as a need to improve the relationship between patients and healthcare providers.
After a diagnosis of breast cancer, there is an immediate focus on your treatment plan, and often this does not include administering to the patient’s mind, spirit and soul. Integrating spirituality into your treatment plan addresses every part of you, and can offer many benefits during your treatment.
It is important to note that spirituality differs from religion. While spirituality is defined as the expression or experience of the sacred, the individual search for meaning, the belief in transcendence or belief in a power larger than one’s own existence; religion is connected to an organized system or group of practices and beliefs in which people engage. Some people are connected to a religious institution, and others can be spiritual, but not religious.
How Can Spirituality Help You During Treatment?
A breast cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling scared, anxious, hopeless, lonely and angry. Facing your mortality can be a daunting thing at any age, an even more so as a young woman. You wonder what the outcome will be, why this is happening to you and often your beliefs and hopes for the future are challenged. Some feel anger towards a higher power or God and a loss of faith. Also, even if you have a strong support network of family and friends, you might feel alone. This is where spirituality comes in. Research has shown that many spirituality can offer many benefits to patients after diagnosis, and into survivorship that help you cope, including: decrease in fear, anger, anxiety and depression; decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation; increased feelings of hope, optimism, and peace; and better quality of life. Integrating spirituality into your traditional and complementary treatment can also improve feelings of well-being and empowerment, which can benefit your treatment. Share with your healthcare team how important your spirituality is to you. This can improve your relationship with your healthcare team.
How Do You Integrate Spirituality Into Your Treatment Plan?
Spiritual practices or rituals offer many benefits that help you cope with your diagnosis, including the following:
- Breathing exercises
- Connecting with nature
- Feng shui
- Guided imagery
- Intentional living
- Listening to music
- Listening to spiritual podcasts
- Prayer beads
- Reading spiritual writings
- Relationship with God
- Tai Chi/Qi Gong
- Visiting sacred places
In 2017, we will offer the following:
- Spirituality Assessment Survey
- For Healthcare Providers – Spirituality & Your Patient
- Downloadable Spiritual Warrior Toolkit