Posts Tagged ‘spiritual health’

Coping with Stress and Cancer

cancer fatigueCancer can create a great deal of stress as individuals try to understand their diagnosis, navigate treatment and manage follow-up care. Feelings of anger, sadness, worry, fear, as well as experiences of questioning personal values and beliefs, wondering about the meaning of life, and having challenges in relationships are all common. It is a lot for any one person to manage!

There are little things you can do to help manage your spiritual and emotional stress while you are living with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment:

1. Accept a New Normal

It can be very frustrating when you’re no longer able to do the things you could do before cancer treatment. It may be helpful to acknowledge your current limitations and to work toward accepting a new normal.

  • Modify favorite activities so you can still enjoy the things you love
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Set small goals and celebrate small successes
  • Be honest about how you feel and what you can do with yourself and your loved ones
  • Find new activities you can enjoy

2. Seek Out People Who Support

When you are living with cancer, many people may be genuinely concerned and want to express their love and care. Sometimes, people may be unsure of how to act, or what to say or do to help. You may find, at times, that you need to manage other people’s feelings relating to your diagnosis. This can create an unnecessary burden for you!

Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with, and spend time with the people that can support you without adding additional burden. It is absolutely okay to decline offers to help, and you are not obligated to share details about your journey that you do not want to share. Perhaps you might not be up for visitors, but you could use help with practical tasks around home. Some ideas may be making a dinner, helping with minor house maintenance, or running an errand for your caregiver.

3. Connect to Your Spiritual Health

Engaging your spirituality is the action of connecting to what you value most. It can take many different forms, such as prayer, meditation, engagement in religious ritual or worship, or it could be sitting quietly on a porch, going fishing or taking a quiet walk around the block. Your spirituality, in whatever form it takes, is important. Engaging with your spirituality can help you reconnect, recharge, and better manage stressful situations. Engaging your spirituality can help you reflect on that which matters most to you.

Start small by dedicating 5-10 minutes every day to an activity that helps you reconnect with what you value and what gives you meaning. Be willing to try a few new things to find what brings you peace and comfort.

4. Remember You Are Not Alone – Lean on Someone

It’s impossible to manage everything on your own — especially during cancer. Find someone with whom you can openly and honestly share how you’re feeling, without the fear of being judged. That may be a close friend, family member, a spiritual health clinician, religious provider, or a licensed therapist.

Visit our website if you’d like to talk with someone from our spiritual health team.

For more information, call HealthConnection at 404-778-7777 or contact your primary care physician.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center for Georgia, the highest designation given by the NCI to cancer centers in the nation. Winship offers expertise in cancer research, prevention, detection and treatment with the most advanced therapies. Winship is where you get treatments years before others can. Our expert team coordinates every detail of your visit to meet your individualized treatment plan. Visit emoryhealthcare.org/cancer or call 1-888-WINSHIP for an appointment.

The Spiritual Side of Cancer Treatment

A cancer diagnosis is nothing short of overwhelming.

In addition to concerns about coordinating treatment for the physical condition, emotions brew in the patient and family members. Fear, anger, and a feeling of being alone are common reactions.

When facing cancer, one mustn’t neglect the spiritual side of treatment.

Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv, Manager of Spiritual Health at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, shares the importance of having someone to talk to about the spiritual side of the cancer diagnosis. “We believe in supporting the whole person in their care. Having a spiritual health clinician attend to the patient and family members helps them to know we care about all of them—all of their personhood—and that we want to support them in comprehensive care.”

Spiritual Doubts & Faith Crises

Many cancer patients experience an urge to be strong and put on a brave face. It’s tough to express one’s spiritual doubts and emotions to friends and family. A spiritual health clinician can serve as a pressure valve, allowing patients to express the suffering and angst they may not be able to comfortably share with friends or family.

“If a person has a particular faith background or spirituality he or she ascribes to, we support that individual in the expression of that spirituality. It can really help patients cope when they’re going through a terribly difficult time like this,” explains Peacock.

Spiritual health clinicians don’t prescribe a particular religious practice but rather help individuals connect to what gives them hope and a sense of connection. For those with a specific faith, community leaders in that faith are accessible to visit and provide spiritual support.

Cancer may also prompt a crisis of faith. Spiritual health clinicians make space to explore these crises by acknowledging how confusing and frightening the diagnosis may be.

“Patients can then further explore how difficult it is to be undergoing this crisis of faith and it allows them to come to their own answer within their own framework for how they understand their situation,” says Peacock.

Spiritual health clinicians willingly listen when patients experience spiritual struggles tied to their cancer diagnosis. Patients receive non-judgmental support, and can even explore some of the thoughts that may feel difficult to bring up in a religious context.

Patient-to-Patient Care

An interesting form of spiritual support can occur between patients. “When two patients are receiving treatment right next to each other in the waiting room or family resource center they often strike up conversations. It’s not uncommon for each to become a source of support,” explains Peacock. “It’s sometimes easier to reveal your emotional and spiritual concerns to someone who is facing similar circumstances.”

A Team Approach

Spiritual help is not just available for patients, but for family members as well. It’s important for all involved in the cancer recovery to find support within their own structure. Visit our website if you’d like to talk with someone from our spiritual health team.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center for Georgia, the highest designation given by the NCI to cancer centers in the nation. Winship offers expertise in cancer research, prevention, detection and treatment with the most advanced therapies. Winship is where you get treatments years before others can. Our expert team coordinates every detail of your visit to meet your individualized treatment plan. Visit emoryhealthcare.org/cancer or call 1-888-WINSHIP for an appointment.

 

About Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv

Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv, is the Manager of Spiritual Health and Community Care for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She is a Certified Associate Educator with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, an ordained Episcopal priest, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been with Emory Healthcare since 2013, where she received her training as a spiritual health educator. Prior to training in Spiritual Health, she worked as a clinical social worker in New York City. Caroline has a passion for offering compassionate, respectful, and effective patient/family-centered care in a multi-faith, multi-cultural environment. She has a Master of Divinity from General Theological Seminary, and a Master of Social Work from City University of New York Hunter College.

To listen to an interview with Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv, Spiritual Health Manager at Winship Cancer Institue of Emory University, please follow this link: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/podcasts/index.html?segitem=36546

Spiritual Health and Your Cancer Journey

When a person is experiencing a serious illness, it’s not just their body that’s affected. The entire being — from the spiritual to emotional — can be impacted. This can be particularly true for individuals navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment. It is not uncommon for people to experience a crisis of faith, to feel disconnected from their religious community or loved ones, or to feel that it is hard to talk about the way their outlook on life may be changing. Some people may feel isolated, angry or overwhelmed. Others may have a renewed sense of meaning or faith. No matter the experience, it can be helpful for people living with cancer to connect with their own spiritual life as a way of coping with their illness.

What is Spiritual Health?

Simply put, spiritual health is the quality of whole-person wellness – including spiritual and emotional wellness.

People have different ideas about what gives them meaning, their deepest values, and religious beliefs, which may affect decisions they make relating to treatment. These values can also impact decision-making about end-of-life care. Even common health issues can bring up spiritual concerns, and patients and family members may benefit from exploring the way their broader life is affected when they experience illness. Some patients and their family caregivers want doctors to talk about spiritual concerns, but feel unsure about how to bring up the subject.

Spiritual Health at Winship Cancer Institute is here to help patients connect with what they value most, to what gives them meaning in life — whether that’s a particular faith, religious or spiritual practice, meditation, cherished pastime, or loving connection to community, family and friends.

Our Spiritual Health clinicians are available to talk to anyone and everyone, regardless of their religious identity. We provide an open, supportive and compassionate presence. This can happen at any point of a person’s cancer journey – at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, or when returning for follow-up care. The Spiritual Health clinicians at Winship Cancer Institute will not impose any belief, but will be present to listen, understand and help you connect with what you value.

In recent years, there have been studies to investigate the benefits of spiritual health. The results support the importance of spiritual health in giving a renewed sense of hope, self-worth and meaning.

How Can I Attend to My Spiritual Health?

Ultimately, a person’s spirituality is a part of their own personal journey. What works best for one person may not work for another. Spiritual health clinicians can talk with you to help you find or strengthen a spiritual connection to whatever it is you believe or find of value.

For some, engaging spirituality may include prayer, attending a religious service, spending time outdoors or daily meditation. The first step is to identify what’s important to you and asking yourself questions such as “What gives me meaning?” and “What do I value most?”

These questions may be difficult to answer at first, but spending time thinking about what you value most can help you find and strengthen a path to spiritual wellness.

Ask for Help

Spiritual clinicians are also available to talk with any patient or caregiver at Winship Cancer Institute. Visit our website if you’d like to talk with someone from our spiritual health team.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center for Georgia, the highest designation given by the NCI to cancer centers in the nation. Winship offers expertise in cancer research, prevention, detection and treatment with the most advanced therapies. Winship is where you get treatments years before others can. Our expert team coordinates every detail of your visit to meet your individualized treatment plan. Visit emoryhealthcare.org/cancer or call 1-888-WINSHIP for an appointment.

 

About Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv

Caroline Peacock, LCSW, MDiv, is the Manager of Spiritual Health and Community Care for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She is a Certified Associate Educator with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, an ordained Episcopal priest, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been with Emory Healthcare since 2013, where she received her training as a spiritual health educator. Prior to training in Spiritual Health, she worked as a clinical social worker in New York City. Caroline has a passion for offering compassionate, respectful, and effective patient/family-centered care in a multi-faith, multi-cultural environment. She has a Master of Divinity from General Theological Seminary, and a Master of Social Work from City University of New York Hunter College.

Listen to the Spiritual Health podcast: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/podcasts/index.html?segitem=36546