National Cancer Institute Is Emphasizing Spirituality in Cancer Care

Your Body Knows Best

After receiving a diagnosis of cancer, it’s natural to have questions that can’t be answered by your care givers or loved ones. You may wonder about life’s purpose and meaning and where you fit in the universe. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends making spirituality a major part of your care resources.

The role of spiritual coping

Most adults in America define themselves as a follower of a specific religion. Even those who don’t often believe in God or a higher power and live their lives based on certain doctrines.

Patients often find great comfort in reaffirming their spiritual beliefs to cope with the uncertainty and anxiety caused by their illness. Your particular beliefs and traditions can also help as you and your health care provider make important decisions about treatment.

Your spirituality offers valuable guidelines to your health care providers and other care givers as well. Spiritual and religious beliefs are intensely personal, which makes it difficult for many patients to bring up the topic. Don’t be reluctant about proactively initiating these discussions.

What is the difference between spirituality and religion?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Religion usually involves a formal set of practices within an organized group. Spirituality is a more individual concept referring to your beliefs about the meaning of life and your connection with others. You can be highly spiritual without belonging to a specific religion.

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