Inner Strength in Cancer Survivors: The Role of Spirituality in Establishing Connectedness
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. College of Nursing Honors Theses; 2011
A diagnosis of cancer can yield uncertainty in the lives of patients and family. Through the process of reflection and self-discovery, the patient often uses spirituality as an integral component of coping. The theory of inner strength describes the developmental process through which cancer survivors can attain a sense of support and nurturance to develop a ‘new normal’. Spirituality may promote connectedness, an integral component of inner strength that leads to a sense of self-determination and mastery. To explore application of the theory, spirituality, as a means of coping and moving beyond cancer was investigated in cancer survivors. A descriptive study design was used to explore a greater understanding of the meaning of spiritual care to cancer survivors. Focus groups with group interviews and open discussion were conducted to examine the perceived needs of cancer survivors and gaps in spiritual care by providers. A heterogeneic sample of seventeen cancer survivors was invited to participate and subsequently interviewed. Data was transcribed and reviewed to identify themes related to spiritual care. Strong correlations emerged between inner strength, knowing one’s personal spirituality and creating a “new normal”. One participant said “it is partly spiritual, but it’s that inner strength that gives you that ability to fight what you have to fight.” Survivors described walking different paths but sharing a journey. These themes support the theory of inner strength, particularly connectedness by nurturing supportive relationships with self, family, friends, and a spiritual power. Cancer survivors have a positive self-concept which enhances quality of life. The theory of inner strength is an effective model to examine expressed needs and concerns of cancer survivors. Application of data to this model may provide the healthcare provider with cues to nurture development of inner strength; it is also a model that can guide the choice of interventions to enhance self-determination and mastery of a ‘new normal’ following a cancer diagnosis may improve quality of life and self-management.
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