Spiritual Growth of Breast Cancer Survivors.
If you ask any breast cancer survivor what has helped her get through the hard times, 'faith' or 'spirituality' usually comes up. After all, when facing something challenging in life, no one wants to feel they are alone. It often helps to have a belief in or connection to something outside of ourselves-and perhaps something higher-so that we can feel that there is more to the world that we are living in.
The Connection Between Spirituality and Breast Cancer
It doesn't always much matter exactly who or what it is that is out there, as long as something is. Spirituality not only gives us a connection with something outside of this world, it also brings us into community with other people with similar beliefs and concerns. Since many counselors and doctors have been emphasizing the importance of spiritual growth in fighting breast cancer, it's definitely something worth looking into if you or someone you love has been given a diagnosis of breast cancer. After all, if you or someone you love has just gotten a diagnosis of breast cancer, you can probably use support wherever you can find it.
An ever-growing body of information has shown that a woman's attitude can make a tremendous difference in the recovery and quality of life during and after treatment for breast cancer. Since a breast cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, the importance of spiritual growth in fighting breast cancer can turn an extremely stressful time into an opportunity for a family to heal old hurts and come together in a way they might not otherwise. It's possible that a woman's attitude and spirit can help make something positive out of what would normally be a negative experience.
What Survivors Say About Spirit
When a woman is affected by a negative or stressful event, it's not uncommon for her to feel she's lost her identity. Since radiation and chemotherapy can have such an impact on a person's body and spirit, many women say that they don't 'feel like themselves' anymore. As treatment goes on, some start to forget that they ever had any other self! To give you an idea of how traumatic the diagnosis and experience of breast cancer can be for a woman, the thoughts and feelings some have can fit the DSM-IV's criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. A new or deepening sense of spirituality can give a survivor more of a sense of who she is and where she fits in the universe. Some faiths believe in a 'personal, knowable' higher power, so feeling that connection with something outside of herself can help a woman develop a new sense of identity. Part of the importance of spiritual growth in fighting breast cancer lies in helping a person know who she is so that she can continue to rebuild her life.
Many faiths believe that there is a purpose for everything that happens, even if we have no idea what that purpose is. Breast cancer survivors often say they take comfort in the idea that there's a reason for what is going on with them, that there's something else in control of what happens to them. While it might seem stressful to feel that you are not in control of your own life, the feeling that there's a higher cause for what is going on can instill a sense of trust in a person who needs to trust more than ever. One of the biggest questions women with breast cancer often ask is, 'why me?' A spiritual counselor or support group might be able to help them find an answer to that question, or at least help them feel that there is one.
Another reason for the importance of spiritual growth in fighting breast cancer can be the new sense of perspective it can give. As she starts to re-evaluate her life and priorities, a woman will begin to see what is really important in her life. As she sees what she has as opposed to what she doesn't have, she'll often start to appreciate things even more than before. Some women have reported that their lives have actually become more joyful and peaceful after the diagnosis of breast cancer because they have been forced to focus on the positive things in their lives.
As you can see, a woman's spirituality and attitude can make a big difference in her recovery from breast cancer. In a time of her life when things seem the most out of control, anything that can give a woman a sense of peace and trust can only help.