As cancer statistics and deaths continue to increase more and more patients are looking for alternatives to take along with the conventional therapies. Among alternative approaches used to fight the disease include spirituality and meditation. Studies have found they indeed work.
Using faith and consciousness to solve different problems is not new; it started since the dawn of time, and it is increasing in different parts of the world, including developed countries like the United States. In case of cancer, certain techniques are used to restore the moral and physical well-being of the patients. They often include prayer therapy, affirmation, visualization, deep breathing, and others. Regardless, the objective of people living with cancer is to heal.
A series of three studies published by the American Cancer Society (ACS) which involved over 44,000 patients highlight the important role spiritual beliefs played on the psychological, physical, and social well-being of people living with cancer. The studies have also reported a positive correlation between spirituality and mental well-being in both healthy people and those experiencing physical or psychological disorders. The researchers found spiritual individuals tend to have inner peace and remain optimistic even when facing serious problems such as cancer.
Better Physical and Mental Health
According to the first study which was conducted by H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, a nonprofit cancer treatment and research center located in Tampa (Florida), patients who had a high degree of spirituality and religiosity were also the ones who preserved the best mental and physical health and who most easily carried out their daily tasks. They also felt fewer treatment side effects, including less physical symptoms. Dr. Jim, lead author of the study, also found that cancer patients who better integrated in their spiritual and / or religious activities had better physical health to overcome cancer.
The second study was done by a group of researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University in Chicago. They found that the emotional aspects associated with religion and spirituality were more strongly beneficial to mental health rather than cognitive and behavioral aspects of their practice. Regardless you call it spiritual faith or scientific faith, the emotion is the result of their faith; they believe “all things work together for good to them that love God.”
The third study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, additionally focused on social relationship of spiritual people. The results show that spirituality and religion have a role, even if it is modest, to maintain social relationships. The more spiritual is a person the easier for him to have social relationship. Spiritual wellness and religious beliefs are indeed associated with better social health unlike unspiritual and irreligious mentality which is associated with higher tendency to loneliness and isolation.
Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery
In addition to these so-called psychosocial oncology programs studies also evaluated meditation technique or MBCR program (Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery) to consciously treat cancer. Developed by psychologists specialized in oncology, this therapeutic approach offers a combination of therapies using meditation, yoga exercises, and others. It is practiced primarily in clinics and hospitals in Canada and the United States.
While it is very difficult to assess the effectiveness of these alternative therapies to overcome cancer, it is certain it works for those who believe. Although very slim, in different parts of the world people use their faith to become free of terminal diseases for which the conventional medicine cannot of do anything. A common case is that of Louise Hay, an American motivational author and the founder who claim she used “the power of her thought” (Mind Power) to get rid of her cancer.
Rhonda Byrne, an Australian television writer and producer, best known for her New Thought books, The Secret, also claims a man used the Law of Attraction, along with gratitude, to heal his kidney failure. In fact, it is not a secret after all; Jesus said the same thing in the Gospels: “...according to your faith it will be done to you.” Matthew 9:29