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A Spiritual Journey through Breast Cancer

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Presentation on theme: "A Spiritual Journey through Breast Cancer"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Spiritual Journey through Breast Cancer
Chi-Mei Horng Associate Professor Department of Clinical Psychology Fu-Jen Catholic University, Taiwan

2 Body-Mind-Spirit We are all made up with body, mind, and spirit.
There’re a lot of researches done on the relationship between body and mind. In treating breast cancer patients, the spiritual perspective was less explored and hardly addressed by medical professionals. F research

3 Research in Taiwan A Study on Efficacy of Body-Mind-Spirit Empowerment and Education Group for Women with Breast Cancer:A Pilot Study. Mei-Ya Su Unpublished thesis for School of Nursing, National Taiwan University, 2008

4 Results Group process effectively
reduced patients’ feelings of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty. increased their confidence about recovery. improved their sense of hope toward future life. established social support network. helped patients to discover the meanings and purposes of their lives.

5 Research in U.S.(1) Religious Practice and Spirituality in the Psychological Adjustment of Survivors of Breast Cancer. Purnell JQ, Andersen BL, Wilmot JP. Couns Values Apr 1;53(3):165.

6 Results Spiritual well-being was significantly associated with quality of life. Religious practice was not significantly associated with quality of life.

7 Research in U.S.(2) Effects of Spirituality in Breast Cancer Survivors. Meraviglia M. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2006 Jan 1;33(1):E1-7.

8 Results Meaning in life was positively related to psychological responses and negatively related to physical responses. Meaning in life mediated the impact of breast cancer on physical and psychological well-being.

9 Research in U.S.(3) Examining Spirituality among Women with Breast Cancer. Reynolds ,D. Holistic Nursing Practice. 2006 May-Jun;20(3):

10 Results Women with breast cancer tried to ascribe meaning for cancer’s occurrence and search for mechanisms to cope with it. Spirituality is utilized to gain a sense of control, reduce stress, and achieve inner peace. Underlying premise: Taking care of the soul is a necessary element in healing the body.

11 Research in U.S.(4) Ethnicity and Spirituality in Breast Cancer Survivors. Levine EG, Yoo G, Aviv C, Ewing C, Au A. Journal of Cancer Survivors Sep;1(3):

12 Results 83% of the women talked about spirituality.
A higher percentage of African-Americans, Latinas, and Christians felt comforted by God than the other groups.

13 Results The traumatic experience of a breast cancer diagnosis help survivors to deepen their faith and appreciation of life. change the way they see themselves and their lives. change how they relate to people around them. change how they relate to God.

14 Research in Canada Reflecting on Spirituality in the Context of Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment. Gould J, Wilson S, Grassau P. Journal of Canada Oncology Nursing Winter;18(1):34-46.

15 Results Three spiritual themes were revealed:
Relationship with a Higher Being. A deepening sense of self . Spiritual connection with others.

16 Research in Iran Muslim Breast Cancer Survivor Spirituality: Coping Strategy or Health Seeking Behavior Hindrance? Harandy TF, Ghofranipour F, Montazeri A, Anoosheh M, Bazargan M, Mohammadi E, Ahmadi F, Niknami S. Health Care Women Int Jan;31(1):88-98.

17 Results Spirituality is the primary source of psychological support .
Many survivors attributed their cancer to the will of God.

18 Research in Malaysia Religion and Spirituality in Coping with Advanced Breast Cancer: Perspectives from Malaysian Muslim Women. Ahmad F, Muhammad M, Abdullah AA. Journal of Religious Health. 2011 Mar;50(1):36-45.

19 Results Survivors take illness as an awakening sign.
Hope and freedom comes from surrendering to God. The common emphasis of spirituality may significantly influence how people learn to live with cancer.

20 What is Spirituality? Spirituality is an individual approach of searching for the meaning of life, finding inner peace within oneself through a very personal connection between oneself and the entity that one believes in, whether it is called God or some Higher Being. Spirituality is broader than religion.

21 Spiritual Beliefs Belief in a Higher Being/God gives people hope in the most difficult times in their lives. Spiritual beliefs make a difference in how people view their breast cancer experience. Survivors might realized that this experience is very meaningful to them.

22 Developing the Spiritual Self
Reading Praying Meditating Relaxation practices Being connected with a Higher Being/God

23 Hearing the “body talk”
Finding spiritual meaning underlying diseases. Listening to your heart to find out who you really are and what you really want in your life.

24 Cure vs. Healing "Cure" is about eliminating disease.
"Healing" is about recovering a sense of inner peace. Focusing on healing process rather than hoping to get cured.

25 My personal experience
I have been working as a clinical psychologist since 1978 and considering myself as a scientist-practitioner. Doing psychological assessment by administering standardized psychological tests. Making diagnosis following certain criterion. Practicing psychotherapy with evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

26 Earned doctoral degree at Boston University in U.S. in 1994.
Teaching at clinical psychology department of Fu-Jen Catholic University since Served as chairperson of clinical psychology department during 2002 to 2005.

27 Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
July, 2005

28 A psychologist who knows all
Quite calm the moment I heard this diagnosis. In the beginning, ” Everything is under my control.” I actively participated in the decision of my treatment plan: understanding every option I have. Following treatment procedure cooperatively and energetically.

29 Three months later…….. Depressed & Confused

30 Why Me? Why Now?

31 On the surface, I was at the peak of my career and in the prime time of my life.
But deep inside, I felt exhausted and depressed. I was not satisfied with what I’ve been doing in my profession. I tried to resolve my problems by myself. However…….

32 My psychological knowledge couldn’t help myself at all !!!

33 Encountering Spirituality
Reading books discussing spirituality such as “The Healing Power of Illness” , “Seth Material” , “Conversations with God” , “A New Earth” , ‘The Power of Now”……. (Material that were not “scientifically validated”) Attending workshops on spirituality Practicing “Qigong”(自發功)

34 Spiritual Awareness Acknowledging my beliefs in a Higher Being
Exploring spiritual meaning of my illness Discovering inner beauties of myself and others Finding out who I really am Redefining purpose of my life

35 Transformation Realizing breast cancer is a blessing in disguise.
Experiencing deepest appreciation for the sacredness of suffering. Knowing that one must hold life gently and learning to let go. Living in the very present moment.   Much healthier and happier than before.

36 Be a “person” first, then a “psychologist”
Shifting professional interest from empirical psychology to human spirituality. Teaching “Spirituality and Psychotherapy” ever since. Addressing more on the spiritual aspects of the clients. Focusing on their strength rather than seeing them as mentally ill.

37 Sharing my spiritual journey with my colleagues, students, fellow psychologists….. Getting many feedbacks from them and inspire a lot of self-introspection among them.

38 The Journey goes on……

39 Thanks for your Attention

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