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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Fighting Cancer: with the Help of Your Catholic Faith

by Lorene Hanley Duquin

The editor of this digital magazine has been fighting cancer for a long time so when this book came to light, I wanted to review it for him and others who are suffering from this disease. The book is a modest 59 pages and has chapters of 3 pages with Scripture references and questions for reflection. The book is divided into milestones on topics that draw us to the essential questions of life: feelings, other people, temptations, peace, control and other issues of concern.

The sixth milestone concerns new ways to pray. The author tries to explain that prayer is not just repeating words or even reading words. Prayer is communication with God on a very intimate level. It begins with a deep desire to seek God and develops into a loving relationship where we give ourselves to God. Then we respond to God as He makes himself known to us. Prayer calms our fear, displaces worry and reduces stress. It changes our outlook on our problems. The author’s experience of cancer has changed the way she prays, and now this new experience with others was allowing her to share with others some of the things she learned on her journey. In the next section of this milestone, the author relates the power of prayer. While prayer is important for our spiritual well-being, medical researchers are now discovering that prayer also plays a role in physical healing. Recent studies show that faith in God and prayer: helps lower blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, reduces anxiety, shortens hospital stays, and increases the quality of life and the ability to adjust to cancer treatments. Other studies conclude that patients who pray seem happier, suffer less from depression, and are better able to cope with their health challenges. There are even studies that suggest people who are prayed for by others tend to recover more quickly. It is the gift of faith. The Gospels indicated that almost every time Jesus healed someone, He said, “Your faith has healed you” or “Your faith has saved you.”

The author points out the book of Psalms as another source of spiritual and emotional support in times of illness. In the psalms, you will find a complete range of human needs and emotions. The psalms are like conversations with God in which you can join the psalmist in pouring out our deepest feelings. Throughout the psalms there are many references to “enemies”. While praying the psalms, keep in mind that your enemies are called cancer cells. Use the psalms as another way of asking God to destroy those cells.

The author presents the notion of visualization as a kind of prayer. The patient imagines that your cancer cells are being attacked by an army of white blood cells that destroy the cancer and force it out of your body. Studies show that visualizations have positive results with cancer patients. The author then describes how to work with visualization.

The authors then describes the joys of contemplation which is a form of prayer that can help the patient calm their mind, broaden the spiritual horizons and transcend the physical limitations cancer has imposed on the patient. In contemplation the patient uses the mind and the imagination to think about God; you free yourself from all thoughts and simply place yourself in the presence of God.

In the Questions for reflection for this milestone the author asks: What kinds of prayer has helped you in your battle with cancer? What images do you use in visualizations or meditations? Can you share some experiences of being touched by God? This a great book for any cancer patient!

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