Spiritual growth during your cancer journey can boost your resilience, immune system and outlook on life. Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, shares how you can develop your spirituality.
“Spiritual growth and spirituality mean different things to different people,” says Buttimer. “Some people automatically think of organized religion and that’s what it means for some people. For others, spirituality is about turning within and connecting to something larger than oneself, whether that’s God, the universe or a higher energy.”
The benefits of spiritual growth during the cancer journey
Spiritual growth during your cancer journey can have mental, emotional and physical benefits.
“The current research in positive psychology shows that people who are satisfied with their spirituality are happier and healthier,” says Buttimer. “The immune system functions better if they are satisfied with their spiritual life.”
Seeking spiritual support
“Almost every cancer center has some type of spiritual support,” says Buttimer. “At Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, we have broad strokes of spiritual programming.”
If your hospital or health care provider has a chaplain on staff, as many do, most are well-versed in all traditions and can help you connect with resources in the community. You can also ask your nurse or social worker for resources.
“When exploring new spiritual practices or groups, keep an open mind, but be discerning,” says Buttimer. “If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it’s a vulnerable time, so pair curiosity with wisdom.”
Exploring your spirituality
Buttimer says some people return to their childhood religious or spiritual origins. Others may find that how they grew up isn’t a good fit for them and begin exploring different faith groups or practices.
“I always teach in my spirituality classes to keep your practice fresh, shake things up and do something different from time to time,” she says. “Maybe you add a ritual to your prayer or meditation time, such as lighting a candle. I’ve found with my patients that changing up their routine helps them keep their spirituality alive and meaningful.”
A soft place to land
“I’ve seen in my private practice and at the hospital that people who have a spiritual practice seem to fare much better,” she says. “By connecting to something greater than themselves and connecting more deeply to themselves, they have a soft place to land that gives them resilience and buoyancy.”
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