Spirituality is what a person does in his or her life that helps them to fulfil their innermost human desires. It can be defined as one’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others and beliefs about the meaning of life. For believers of a religion, spirituality may be found or expressed through their religion.
Cancer and spirituality
When a person receives his or her cancer diagnosis, questions such as “why me?” or “what did I do that caused this to happen to me?” often comes to mind. Having cancer (or any other serious illness) can make you question the meaning of your life, illness and suffering. It can shake your beliefs, faith and values, and affect your relationship with others. While this causes some people to reflect and think about what is important to them, others may feel overwhelmed and distressed, making it harder for them to cope with cancer and its treatment. Other problems you may experience can include:
How spiritual distress can be managed
If one can find some resolutions to their questions, they can see their illness and suffering differently, and find a renewed sense of purpose. Spiritual support is an important component of cancer care that can help you work through these problems, allow you to cope better and have a better quality of life. This is a dynamic process that continues through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship or the end of life.
Your doctor or nurse may work with you to identify your goals and options, or they may refer you to a medical social worker or psychologist, who conducts a spiritual assessment by asking you more questions (e.g. your beliefs, your support system). Depending on your needs, they may carry out further counselling sessions, or offer you resources to help with enhancing spiritual wellbeing.
What you can do
When to call your cancer care team
Please inform your doctor or nurse and request for a referral to see a social worker / psychologist if you experience any of the above problems and find that it is affecting your day to day functioning.
If you are a patient with NCCS, you may also call
+65 6436 8417 or
+65 6436 8088 to book an appointment to speak to our NCCS medical social worker/ clinical psychologist.
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The above contents are made available as part of TEMASEK FOUNDATION-ACCESS (Accessible Cancer Care to Enable Support for Survivors) PROGRAMME, a holistic care programme to support cancer patients during their care and recovery journey.
The contents have been approved by the Cancer Education Information Service, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), for people with cancer and their families and caregivers. However, this information serves only as a guide and should not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or advice. For specific medical conditions, please seek expert medical advice from your healthcare team.
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