Faith-Based Support and Mesothelioma Explained
Faith-based support for patients with mesothelioma can take many forms. Religion is the most obvious type of faith-based support and many hospitals offer in-house chaplain services for patients.
However, religion is not the only way a patient can be supported spiritually. Because personal belief systems are so diverse, the best type of faith-based support varies with each person. Any activity that nurtures the spirit or soul is beneficial when fighting cancer and other illnesses.
Examples of faith-based support options:
- Practicing yoga
- Spending time with animals
- Reading and writing
- Spending quality time with others
Many hospitals have recognized the importance of integrated health—physical, mental and spiritual. Medical centers typically have in-house faith-based support for patients. This is particularly common in comprehensive cancer centers, such as the Baylor Lung Institute which has a comprehensive support program that includes spiritual guidance.
Mesothelioma patients who want to spend time with a chaplain or spiritual leader should ask their doctor or nurse how to access one if the information isn’t provided. Nurses, family members, and staff are often able to request these services on behalf of a patient at any time.
Benefits of Faith-Based Support
Even individuals who don’t consider themselves religious or spiritual can see health benefits from faith-based support. Examples of these benefits include:
- Longer life
- Higher level of happiness and satisfaction with life
- Stronger sense of inner peace
- More optimism, hope, and positive feelings
- Fewer life regrets
- Stronger interpersonal relationships
- Sense of community
- Better coping mechanisms
- Decrease in depression and anger
- Decrease in anxiety
- Decreased suicide risk
- Decreased alcohol and substance abuse
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower risk of heart disease
Faith-Based Support Options
Faith-based support can take many forms and the available options will vary by hospital. However, it’s common for hospitals to have the following faith-based services:
Most hospitals offer some form of worship services, often in more than one faith. While Catholic and Christian-based worship is the most common, many hospitals also offer Jewish, Muslim and Interfaith services as well.
Hospital chapels are another common resource and tend to welcome patients and their family members at any time. These quiet spaces are often always available, ensuring people can connect with their faith whenever they feel the need.
Chaplains, Counseling & Rituals
Almost all hospitals have a chaplain on call or in-house, ensuring that patients can access a leader of their faith when needed. Chaplains will come to the patient’s room or the chapel to provide guidance and perform rituals, such as prayer before surgery or reading of last rites.
Chaplains can also help with counseling, planning for end of life care and funeral arrangements. In addition to routine chaplain visits, many hospitals will also arrange for visits from a minister, rabbi, priest, imam, pandit, or another religious leader, if requested by a patient.
Many hospitals have quiet places where individuals can go to pray, meditate or think. As one example, The Johns Hopkins Hospital offers both meditation rooms and healing gardens for these purposes. Most hospitals offer some form of quiet space for patients to work on their faith-based healing.
When it isn’t possible for spiritual or religious leaders to visit a hospital in person, patients may still be able to access support through telephone consultations. In some cases, video conferencing or other modern technology may be used to facilitate these conversations as well.
Spiritual Care Channels
Another option for accessing spiritual support is through television. Some hospitals offer dedicated channels for spiritual guidance, while others will allow patients to access faith-based support through cable programming.
As comprehensive cancer centers and other hospitals increasingly see the value of spiritual and holistic care, more spiritual activities are being added for patients. Painting and art, yoga, meditation, animal therapy, music therapy and community socialization are all examples of spiritual activities that a hospital may offer.
Most of these activities are run on a pre-set schedule that patients will be provided.
Faith-Based Challenges for Patients
It’s common for mesothelioma patients to question their faith and belief system. Cancer feels extraordinarily unfair.
This can cause people to challenge their belief system and ask questions like:
- Why do I have cancer?
- How could my faith let me down like this?
- What could I have done differently?
- How can life be so unfair?
There are a lot of questions of faith that can be extraordinarily difficult to navigate alone. Having faith-based support can help patients find answers, better connect with their belief system and come to peace with the challenges they are facing.
Mesothelioma patients may also find that their existing values and beliefs change entirely. They may seek religion for the first time or consider a new type of faith. In either case, having personal spiritual guidance can help patients explore new territories.
Studies have proven that all people have some form of spirituality and most people want their doctor to take an interest in this aspect of their health. Mesothelioma patients should take the time to discuss their spiritual needs with their doctor when determining treatment plans.
Emotional and Spiritual Support
In addition to religious and faith-based support, mesothelioma patients may find the need for emotional support. Many hospitals’ faith-based support systems have been created to help patients with their emotional and spiritual questions, regardless of faith.
It’s common for people with mesothelioma to experience a range of confusing emotions. While nobody wants a cancer diagnosis, some positives may come from it, such as stronger connections with family. This can lead to a range of conflicting emotions that are challenging to work through, beyond what most mesothelioma patients anticipate.
Additional spiritual support may include:
- Confidential sharing of thoughts, fears, and anxieties
- Comfort during difficult moments
- Being heard without judgment
- Conversations that work through challenging events
- Having a partner for prayer
- The opportunity to live your traditions and beliefs
- Support for yourself, friends and family
Maintaining spirituality and finding a higher purpose can improve a patient’s ability to fight and manage their illness.
Spiritual health directly impacts mental and physical health, making it an essential component of a person’s overall well-being. Therefore, it’s important to take care of your spiritual health and consider using any faith-based support options that are available to you.
End of Life Decisions for Family Members
End of life decision making can be challenging for patients, but it also takes its toll on family members. Faith-based support options will help patients and their family members answer important questions and make decisions on what should happen if the patient passes away.
While it can be tough to think about, end of life decisions can help provide closure and ease some of the burdens on family members.
Improving Your Comfort With Mesothelioma Treatments
Faith-based support can help patients improve their comfort with mesothelioma treatments. When nearing the end of life, it’s important that mesothelioma patients continue to look after themselves. Spiritual guidance and other faith-based activities can help ease the transition and make the final stage of life easier to cope with.
Faith-based support services help patients enjoy their remaining time with as much peace and comfort as possible while incorporating their faith or belief systems.