Spiritual Support for Patients Facing Cancer
At Dignity Health we take the spiritual dimension of healing seriously. Staff chaplains—while not the only avenue for spiritual and emotional support—make a difference. Our aim is to do our best to support patients and their families as they deal with serious illness.
A serious illness affects much more than the physical aspects of life: it also affects one’s relationships, emotions, and even one’s faith or spirituality. Spiritual support and accessing one’s inner resources that bring hope and meaning is vital for the healing process and coping with illness. At Mission Hope Cancer Center—and Dignity Health as a whole—we embrace the spiritual dimension of life as a vital component of healing; staff chaplains are available to care for the needs that often occur when dealing with illness.
The many duties of a chaplain include counseling, facilitating support groups and offering prayer. They work with the religious, spiritual and the agnostic, helping people of all backgrounds find strength in the midst of their current circumstances. When a patient receives shocking news, chaplains will facilitate communication or provide comfort.
Trained to support patients and families of all spiritual beliefs and faith traditions, the focus of the chaplain’s work is on helping a person find strength, meaning, and hope. While typically religious things, such as offering prayer, sacraments or sacred texts, are an important part of the chaplain’s work, making appropriate referrals to one’s pastor, priest or rabbi are central as well.
Chaplains are accessible to all patients and their families at Mission Hope. Across the street stands Marian Regional Medical Center, where the regional spiritual care offices are located, complete with a beautiful chapel and peaceful healing garden. Chaplains on site can be reached through any member of the Mission Hope or Dignity Health staff.
A conversation with a chaplain can often bring a refreshing perspective and hope. While you might not share the same faith tradition as a staff chaplain, their training and ability to listen along with their compassion and sensitivity to the nuances of your situation, may help you access your own spiritual resources to aid you on your journey. A board certified chaplain has earned a graduate degree in theology and undergone intensive supervised training in clinical pastoral education, in addition to 2,000 hours of work related experience. They are experienced in listening and being present as a person shares their story which is central to spiritual care. Sharing memories with someone who isn’t there to judge or give simplistic advice can be healing and is important to a person’s outlook. Whether you are dealing with spiritual or emotional distress, questions about life’s purpose, struggling with grief, or wrestling with end-of-life questions, chaplains are here to help and, ideally, bring hope and a renewed sense of meaning.
—Article contributed by Rev. Matthew T. Kronberg, BCC