“My initial response was shock. You don’t want to really believe it. Then I was scared.” Those words are from Margaret Price, a breast cancer survivor, about her initial diagnosis. She shared her story with the Amarillo Globe News recently.
After her diagnosis, she reasoned that her treatment must include a learning experience. She stated, “The whole process was a major learning lesson. Years ago, my mom used the term ‘daily learning lesson,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is a big one’. What she learned was that she was innately strong and, with the love of her family and friends, could handle more than she had previously thought.
She also credited prayer with helping her find this inner strength. She said, “I have always believed in the power of prayer. My advice is to think positive, pray a lot and laugh a lot. It really did help me get through it all.”
Prayer and spirituality are vital tools to many cancer survivors. Breastcancer.org recently defined spirituality as: “An awareness of something greater than the individual self. It is often expressed though religion and prayer, although there are many ways to express and pursue spirituality.”
It continues: “Studies have found that spirituality, religion, and prayer are very important to quality of life for some people who have been diagnosed with cancer.” Two of the benefits of spirituality listed include:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Promoting a more positive outlook and a stronger will to live
And, numerous studies have documented the health outcomes when these two benefits are achieved through treatment.
On the Cancer Survivors Network, one woman with the initials R.E. wrote, “Spirituality can be many things; some may find it at a church or a synagogue while others find it in the comfort of a mountain stream or the spray of the ocean. I find it in many of the places I just listed. When times are difficult or stressful I find great comfort in the presence of nature and the meditation of prayer.”
Dodie Osteen, mother of televangelist Joel Osteen, tells of her experience with cancer and prayer. According to examiner.com, when Mrs. Osteen was only 48 years old, she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. She was told there was no hope for her, and to go home and die. She decided to look up healing scriptures in the Bible instead. She also wrote letters to others who had wronged her and forgave them.
She prayed not only for herself, but for others too, feeling this was an important part of her daily treatment. One of the Bible passages Osteen prayed with is this: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103: 2-3). According to examiner.com, “As the days went by, Dodie could feel the health coming back into her body. She was restored to health, by the power of God’s Word.”
Like many things associated with cancer – getting through each day may not be easy, being courageous may seem impossible, and the whole experience may feel nightmarish – but according to Margaret Price, Dodie Osteen, and others, prayer helps.
Tim Mitchinson is a self-syndicated health columnist and the media representative for Christian Science in Illinois.