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, and 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.
How Spirituality Can Improve Quality of Life and Survivorship
Spirituality can offer you a sense of personal growth while you’re dealing with your cancer diagnosis, as well as during cancer treatment, and even as a cancer survivor.
Spiritual practices can help you adjust to the effects of cancer and its treatment. In fact, patients who rely on their faith or spirituality tend to experience increased hope and optimism, higher satisfaction with life and feelings of inner peace.
They also tend to be more compliant with treatment and live a healthier lifestyle.
Spiritual practices can help you put your concerns into perspective, and help you calm and restore yourself.
Studies show that spirituality can have a direct impact on the quality of life. Some benefits of spirituality on your life include:
- decreased feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness and risk of suicide
- decreased alcohol and drug use
- lowered blood pressure
- better control of pain, nausea and discomfort
- increased positive feelings of optimism
- satisfaction with life and inner peace
- increased ability to enjoy life during cancer treatment.
How To Integrate Spirituality Into Your Treatment Plan
To integrate spiritual care as part of your comprehensive cancer treatment plan, be your own advocate and speak with your medical team about your concerns about spirituality – whether it is to say that you would like spirituality to be an important component of your care, or that you’d like more information on the topic.
Your doctor will likely start this conversation through a spiritual assessment. They would likely move on to suggest spiritual care interventions, such as guiding you to resources to help you meditate, or they may suggest that you keep a journal, participate in support groups or speak with a Chaplin.
The following are tips for strengthening your spirit: