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You Are Not Alone A Practical Guide for Maintaining Your Quality of Life While Living with Cancer You're Not Alone

Spirituality, Faith, and Religion - III. Psychological And Emotional Support

Hope Coping
Attitudes That Can Help

Positive Thinking
Support Groups
Realistic, Achievable Goals

End-of-Life Care
Leaving Instructions to Loved Ones

Faith is often an invisible force which carries great healing power...It is a supremely potent belief.
The Relaxation Response
Dr. Herbert Benson
Harvard University

At times of extreme vulnerability, we all tend to pay more attention to our innate spirituality and seek to restore a feeling of being connected with the universe or a spiritual idea beyond ourselves. We may seek this liaison through prayer and a renewed devotion to God and our religion or through ritual exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Whether done privately or with family and community, nurturing our spirituality is a vital component of coping with the unfamiliar and uncertain circumstances associated with chronic illness. In the event of treatment failure and progressive disease, spirituality can help ease the pain of separation from loved ones and the things of this world.

One aspect of your quality of life concerns your sense of peace or acceptance. Patients who do not participate in a formal religion but who nonetheless consider themselves spiritually involved often feel that their spirituality has been deepened through their experience with cancer. Some reflect on the suffering of humankind through the ages and feel that by having cancer they are participating in one aspect of what it means to be human. Some patients find peace in a kind of surrender to mystery and a trust in some larger reality - a divinity or intelligence, or a purpose - that gives meaning to their suffering.

Spirituality also plays a role in end-of-life care, helping patients utilize their remaining time to achieve a sense of peace and purpose, even in their final weeks, days or hours. Spiritual practices can strengthen feelings of hope or give meaning to life prior to death.

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