What are the signs of spiritual distress for cancer patients?

No matter how you respond to your diagnosis, it’s not unusual for cancer patients to feel the impact of spiritual pain and distress, says Rhonda Cooper, an oncology chaplain at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.  Signs of spiritual distress for cancer patients may include:

  • Guilt or regrets about things you have done
  • Fear of dying
  • An inability to find comfort in prayer, worship or study in your faith
  • Feeling you are being punished
  • Losing hope

Cooper emphasizes that these are normal spiritual reactions to an unexpected crisis such as a cancer diagnosis. Your doctor, nurse or social worker can contact a chaplain for you, and you also can take advantage of the Bunting Interfaith Chapel on the main level/arcade of the Zayed Tower at Johns Hopkins, or the meditation room located in the Weinberg Building lobby, which are always open for prayer and reflection. Weekly worship services also are held throughout the hospital.

Chaplain Cooper explains more in this video about spiritual care for cancer patients at the center:


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