Spirituality and Cancer
The core objective of the research paper is to determine a concrete relationship between the spiritual instinct of man and to what extent is spirituality helpful in combating or in some exceptional cases eradicating a harmful disease like cancer and its associated adverse repercussions on the human body.
In addition to this the paper also sheds light on some of the practical, realistic and evidence based examples of people who by strongly adhering to the doctrines of spirituality were able to resist and were eventually triumphant in some cases eliminating this disease completely.
Spirituality or what is termed as an ultimate or immaterial reality involves processes through which a person undergoes a struggle to find a meaning that reflects his inner being and explore the very existence of his essence and presence in the world.
Through the practice of spiritual exercises a person gains a much better understanding of his Creator and benefactor, moreover it is also said that spirituality brings a person closer to God. There are three major methods through which spirituality is performed; these include the actions of meditation, contemplation and prayer. All three actions through their special postures and kinesics attempts to bridge the gap between God and his creation and it is through these actions that a person gets the opportunity to address his problems, his difficulties and toils through a religious action. (Taylor, Elizabeth and Ruth 1997)
Science, Spirituality and Cancer
Every religion of the world accentuates on the principle of spirituality in different ways. In Christianity, the action of binding hands is considered as a method of gaining spiritual essence and importance whereas in Islam the different body postures of offering prayers are important in terms of attaining spirituality. (Waijmann 2002)
On the other hand, a modern area of research that has captivated the attention of medicine and health experts all over the globe is to unearth the connection between spirituality and spiritual essence and the ways it can be used to heal or cure extremely lethal diseases such as cancer. The use of spiritual means has always been a fascinating subject of study in the case of third world or developing countries where the scope of scientific and technological advancements is still on a limited scale. (Young and Koopsen 2009)
It is a general belief of people in such countries that some of the diseases are best cured by spiritual healers who have special powers of healing and curing people completely alien and much above the understanding boundaries of medical science. Sometimes the occurrence of such diseases is also linked with orthodox and conservative beliefs like exorcism for which exorcists are approached for the eviction of demonic spirits that hold a human soul hostage for the fulfillment of evil commands. (Fisch and Burton 2006)
But a major question that pops in the human mind is there any sort of connection between spirituality and cure of such diseases? Does our faith play a role in healing us from diseases like cancer and its types? And if there is any sort of credibility in such beliefs then does it imply that spiritual convictions are much more superior to the tangible existence of science?
Even though the number of case studies or research conducted in dealing with this aspect has been limited, there is phenomenal similarity that demonstrates a positive co relation between religiosity and cancer treatment. It has been shown in these studies that the individuals that strictly adhere to the doctrines of their faith and conviction are capable of handling such situations in a much better way and in a more positive manner. (King 2006)
The importance and impact of spirituality is not only limited to diagnosis of the disease, it is also concerned with the treatment of the related cancer. The most widely prescribed treatment of cancer is chemotherapy and various research studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute have shown that active spiritual life may also prove helpful in enhancing and modifying the respective advantages and results of chemotherapy. (Hareyan 2004)
One of the studies that were conducted by the Institute regarding the condition of patients that showed signs and symptoms of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer during chemotherapy showed that patients with greater spiritual and religious affiliations were able to demonstrate greater recovery signs. In addition to this such patients also showed signs of a healthy immune system than those with little no faith or spiritual influences.
In relation to this another study was conducted that outlined that the life expectancy and the quality of life of people suffering from cancer also varied according to their spiritual beliefs and faith. In this case also people who had firm religious and spiritual beliefs and strictly to their theological doctrines were able to display much better and positive results.
The above presented facts might sound ambiguous to many and the fact is that being religiously faithful or being spiritual does not guarantee survival from cancer. There are number of cases where people despite of being very pious and religious capitulated in front of a fatal disease like cancer. (Eldbridge 2010)
Evidence Based Practice Incident
There are a number of incidents that also manifest that people who regularly practice and oblige to their religious duties in spiritual terms have shown greater level of improvement in recovering from diseases like tumors of cancer.
One such patient who was diagnosed with malignant stomach cancer known as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the year 1991 said that he lost 10 kilos of weight over a period of one week. Doctors and oncologists advised him to undergo a surgery which was supposed to be followed by chemotherapy sessions. She refused to go for an operation as he was already intimidated by the tragic reality that his daughter and two son-in-laws have already lost their lives after being treated with chemotherapy. She left the hospital as she preferred dying at home rather than suffering the pain of chemotherapy sessions. The person began to spend most of her time in offering religious services and supplications to God by being a part of the Healing Stream and with the passage of time she miraculously began to feel a change in her appetite.
At one point of time where the subject named as Mrs. L.W was instructed not to eat anything, she could eat everything now and began to regain her lost weight and all signs of fatigue and haggardness began to disappear. She further says that the problems encountered earlier have never reoccurred and the greatest surprise of all is that on follow-up examination conducted by doctors showed that all signs of cancerous growth in my stomach had disappeared. (Healing Cancer Naturally)
By the incident described above it is proved that the relation between these two important components cannot be sidelined as to what has been presented in various conducted studies and research but despite of all this, unfortunately a recent study conducted by Harvard concluded that 72% of the patients stated that their spiritual requirements and necessities are not fulfilled during the time when their medical treatment is going on in a hospital. (NCI 2009)
Adherence and implementation on faith and spirituality comprises a basic belief of the religious foundation of any individual, therefore it is important for every person to observe his religious obligations as it is a generally acknowledged fact that the point where science, its applications and benefits cease to exist, it is the precise point from where spirituality and our faith and belief starts to play the most important role.
Taylor Johnston Elizabeth Mickley Ruth Jacqueline 1997 ‘Spirituality and Cancer’ Volume 13 issue 4
Young, Caroline Koopsen, Cyndie 2009 ‘Spirituality: Health and healing’ Jones and Bartlett Learning
Waaijman, Kees 2002 ‘Spirituality: forms foundations and methods’ Peeters Publishers
Fisch J. Michael Burton W. Allen 2006 ‘Cancer Pain Management’ Mc-Graw Hill Professional
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