Pastoral care - Research Paper Example

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Cancer and Pastoral Care [Author’s Name] Table of Contents Cancer and Pastoral Care Introduction Young and old, rich or poor, from every ethnic background, cancer victims each fight a unique fight of faith and hope as they often struggle through issues that only a day before they were unaware or merely considered an annoyance…
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Download file to see previous pages However, it is also a statistically significant disease. Cancer is the second largest annual killer in the United States, second only to heart disease. This paper posits that pastoral care can identify and address the spiritual and emotional needs of the patient, family members, and loved ones. Background Jann Aldredge Clanton's book Counseling People with Cancer sets a major theological theme as hope, and the pastoral task associated with this is to nurture hope through the use of sacred images and stories. This can be done by hearing what is important to the patient and helping the patient put words to their image of Divinity to find comfort during difficult times.1 Counseling the Sick and Terminally III by Gregg Albers is a practical volume written by a physician from an Evangelical Protestant perspective. He discusses the involvement of the whole person in the healing process and the importance of an integrated emotional and spiritual structure. Albers argues that an individual's spiritual maturity can deeply affect emotional and physical healing abilities and emotional reactions are inseparable from physical symptoms. In his experience, he observed in his practice that there are times when emotional reactions to may become more devastating than physical symptoms.2 Albers introduces a unified theory of grief based upon several clinical models of grief reactions and losses, helping others listen for the initial reaction, the shock, denial, and finally the acceptance: He argues that although Kubler-Ross speaks rightly of the positive aspects of hope and its strengthening effects, the Kubler-Ross model does not personalize the hope that can be found in a personal faith.3 Furthermore, patients often experience loss of control, time, bodily functions, body parts, physical attributes, self-esteem, family positions or roles, and income. The degree of loss depends upon the severity and length of the illness.4 Going beyond the Kubler-Ross model, Albers argues that God can even use these losses to break down psychological defenses. This breaking down of psychological defenses can allow patients to reach out to others for support and build relationships with loved ones. Many studies also demonstrate the value of religious faith at the end of life, and this connection to God or higher power brings strength and helps to sustain individuals living with advanced cancer.5 Some of the more recent work addresses the spiritual needs and resources of the dying patients and their family members. It is helpful to examine a few of these studies. A survey performed by Roberts, Brown, Elkins and Larson at the University of Michigan Medical Center revealed that out of 108 women who described themselves as having some form of fear, 91%feared dependency, 73% feared death, 73 % feared pain and 73% feared loss of control (participants were invited to indicate all fears which applied to them).6 It is interesting to note the primary fear expressed by patients in this study was not fear of death, but fear of being dependent on others for care. Another study was conducted by M.F. Highfield at Veterans Administration West-Los Angeles facility which examined the spiritual health of oncology patients through the eyes of the nursing staff.7 Findings from this study indicated that nurses were often ill-equipped to assess ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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