Spiritual Needs (from ABC's)

Addressing Spiritual Needs

Our patients have told us there is a range of healing that must be addressed that is separate from just treating the physical illness," said Patrick W. McLaughlin, M.D., radiation oncologist and director of the Michael and Rose Assarian Cancer Center.

He presented a session about complementary cancer therapies at ACCC's recent National Oncology Economics Conference."While clinical expertise is a critical component in caring for our patients, their emotional and spiritual needs are just as important in the healing process.

Spiritual and psychological healing should be integrated into traditional cancer center care," said McLaughlin.Spirituality in medicine is often ignored in traditional medicine, said McLaughlin. Yet, 90 percent of individuals in the U.S. believe in God, 80 percent pray each day, and 70 percent wish their doctors and nurses would pray with them.

While modern medicine assumes that illness serves no ultimate purpose and only scientifically proven treatments are legitimate, traditional healing views illness as a door to a deeper life. Mind/body effects and prayer are legitimate and important approaches, said McLaughlin, who urged that any complementary therapy program be organized around a structure that reflects the human spirit.

The Michael and Rose Assarian Cancer Center, a 33,000 square-foot facility, located at Providence Medical Center-Providence Park in Novi, Mich., opened in August 2000. The cancer center is a joint project of Providence Hospital and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.The $16 million facility not only provides the newest technologies and protocols for cancer diagnosis and treatment but also offers surroundings and programs that promote emotional and spiritual healing. The cancer center features a reflective space containing a dramatic interior pond and garden. In addition, the center's art gallery displays paintings, crafts, and writings of cancer patients. An art therapy room offers a therapeutic outlet for current patients.

Cancer patients often express the "darkest profound moments in their soul" through artwork, said McLaughlin. "Suffering in life often gives individuals a deep compassion and understanding of life that they might never have had."Cancer patients are offered a variety of complementary therapies, including massage, meditation, and yoga.

"Patients offered yoga for the first time report they haven't felt so relaxed in years," said McLaughlin.

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