9 Ways to Stay Spiritually Connected On Your Cancer Journey

  • woman-sitting-cross-legged
    Embrace Your Spiritual Side
    Spirituality is very personal and each individual may define it a little differently. However, many agree it’s deeply connected to our desire to find meaning and purpose in our lives, which can be very helpful when you’re faced with an illness like cancer. A cancer diagnosis sometimes affects our spiritual well-being and it can be challenging to stay spiritually strong during your journey. Fortunately, spiritualism can encompass a wide range of areas like nature, inner peace, hope and a connection to a higher power, which opens up many options for maintaining your spiritual connection even while you’re managing cancer.

  • woman-meditation
    1. Try Meditation or Prayer
    Prayer and meditation are often included in spiritual support for cancer patients because it can help reduce your anxiety and worries about what will happen next. The beauty of these practices is that they are versatile. You can do them just about anywhere, you don’t need any special tools or equipment and you can enjoy meditation and prayer alone or in a group. Also, you can tailor your intentions to focus on healing yourself or others, as well as for general peace. Whichever way you approach meditation and prayer, it can help reduce stress and soothe your nervous system.

  • man-hiking-up-hill
    2. Enjoy the Outdoors
    Heading outside to enjoy nature is a favorite practice that can connect you with the beauty of our world and your own inner peace. Relfection in nature is known to reduce stress and enhance feelings of joy and gratitude. Nature is also an agnostic space where you can enjoy spiritual practices of all kinds. Get creative and try yoga outside, chant or sing while you’re on your daily walk, pray while you sit by a stream or dance your heart out in the middle of a field. The birds and squirrels just might join in.

  • senior-woman-sitting-outside
    3. Journal About Your Experience
    When you’re working through a cancer diagnosis, you may be experiencing a lot of feelings that are hard to share with others or get stuck swirling around in your mind. Journaling can be a therapeutic practice that helps you release those thoughts onto paper and relieve anxiety or increase joy. Your journal is your private space, so any and all thoughts are welcome. Try taking 5-10 minutes to journal when you wake up or make a gratitude list at the end of the day. Don’t forget that journaling doesn’t have to mean pen on paper. You can use a voice recorder to create an audio journal that may be helpful for you and others to listen to and reflect upon later.

  • Senior women painting
    4. Get Creative
    When your working through a treatment routine for cancer, doing activities that are more freeform can be relaxing. Creating art is a fun way to connect to your spiritual side and can take many forms. Express yourself with painting, making music, singing, dancing and even cooking. Do whatever the true you feels like doing. Creative play can also help you release emotions from your system, share your cancer story and serve as a nice distraction from your worries. You don’t even have to make art, you can just look at it and enjoy it. Whatever your creative intention, open your imagination and go for it.

  • Older man
    5. Read All About It
    When faced with an illness, you may become more curious about the meaning of life and be inspired to explore a variety of spiritual approaches to see what can help you most right now. There are a lot of books available by spiritual masters or people just like you who have gone through similar experiences. Dive in and read as much as you can. If you aren’t a big reader, try an audio book. You may even want to engage your support system with a book club, so you can all learn together.

  • senior man volunteering at tree planting
    6. Do Some Good
    Many cancer patients have said they feel better when they volunteer or do acts of kindness for others. If you’re spending a lot of time thinking about your own health, it can be a nice break to think about someone else for a change. You can do something simple like bake cookies for friends. You may also want to get involved with a local community group and volunteer in whatever way feels best for you. Helping others can enhance your connection to your spiritual nature and reveal a deeper purpose in life.

  • woman meditating in field outside
    7. Develop a Daily Routine
    A daily practice can help you keep your spiritual connection strong as you go through your cancer experience. Yoga, meditation, prayer and other spiritual routines have been shown to provide a big benefit to your health. There have been over 3,000 studies that suggest spirituality helps reduce stress, relieves pain, fights depression and boosts your immune system. Many cancer patients recover more quickly when they have a regular spiritual practice and the end of life experience can become easier with spirituality as a comfort. To set the stage for success, create a sacred space for your routine and schedule time each day to connect to your spirituality.

  • man and woman meditation together outside
    8. Embrace Friends and Family
    We sometimes forget that stress can take a toll on our caregivers, family, friends and anyone we’re close to during our journey. Consider inviting them to join you in your spiritual practice or you can get involved in theirs. This opens opportunities to discuss how everyone is feeling and to share your stories. Doing yoga, creating art or practicing mindfulness as a group can create a healing spiritual connection that can help heal everyone in your life.

  • portrait of doctor's hand on patient's shoulder
    9. Team Up with Your Doctor
    Believe it or not, doctors and nurses are now focusing on spiritual support for cancer patients and are taking a more active role in helping them include spirituality in their treatment. Talk to your healthcare team about your spiritual practices and how you’d like to incorporate them into your treatment plan. Also, bring up any questions you have about spirituality and what’s on your mind. Your doctor may have had other patients who felt the same way and can share advice from that experience. The main thing is to start the spiritual conversation and keep it going, so you can find new ways for spirituality to help heal you along the way.

9 Ways to Stay Spiritually Connected On Your Cancer Journey

About The Author

Elizabeth has been writing for Healthgrades since 2014 and specializes in articles about alternative and complementary therapies like meditation, yoga, energy work and aromatherapy. She also performs improv comedy and is a firm believer that laughter really is the best medicine.
  1. Connect with the spiritual side on cancer journey. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/cancer-and-spirituality/bgp-20056413
  2. A New Look at Spirituality. Cancer Today. http://www.cancertodaymag.org/Summer2014/Pages/Defining-Spirituality-Cancer-Patients.aspx
  3. Spirituality and Healing. Harvard Medical School. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/spirituality-and-healing
  4. The Effect of Religiousness on the Immune System and Cancer. Cancer Forward. http://www.cancerforward.org/survivor-resources/experts-speak/John-K-Graham-MD-DMin/the-effect-of-religiousness-on-the-immune-system-and-cancer
  5. Spirituality and Prayer. Breastcancer.org. http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/spirituality
  6. Finding Comfort in Spirituality. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/spirituality.aspx
  7. Study: Cancer Patients with Strong Religious or Spiritual Beliefs Report Better Health. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/study-cancer-patients-with-strong-religious-or-spiritual-beliefs-report-better-health.html
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jul 31
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