Finding Strength in the Midst of Illness: Center Guides Patients and Their Supporters to Discover Spiritual Healing in Their Journeys with Cancer

By Ryan, Zoe | National Catholic Reporter, September 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Finding Strength in the Midst of Illness: Center Guides Patients and Their Supporters to Discover Spiritual Healing in Their Journeys with Cancer


Ryan, Zoe, National Catholic Reporter


WICHITA, KAN. * Jacque Smith was pregnant with her youngest when her mom had cancer.

"I had life in me and she had death in her," she said. Soon after, Smith had to have most of her stomach removed due to pre-cancer.

"At times, I thought I was being this bad person if I got down," she said. "We're human, and we do get sad, we do get lonely, we do feel let clown. But it's how long you stay there, and now I know how to go back to my center."

Smith found her center with help from Spiritual Strengths Cancer Care, a program to help people with cancer come to a peace within. The program is offered at the Magnificat Center--a retreat center run by the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wichita--and brought there by psychologist Richard Johnson and the past retreat center director, St. Joseph Sr Helene Lentz.

For about 15 years, Johnson worked as a behavioral scientist with cancer patients in a few St. Louis hospitals. What he saw there amazed him.

Certain people with cancer lamented their situation, while others were calm and resilient. He asked doctors, nurses, aides and technicians why there was this difference. Their reply: attitude.

After conducting research for five years getting to the essentials of attitude, he found it was the power of virtue that allowed those people to rise above their situation and see it as something to bring them closer to God, and certain virtues were very common. He created the "spiritual strengths," a person's powerful qualities that provide "power and might" for spiritual healing.

Johnson, an author and a Catholic living in St. Louis, gave the occasional program on aging at the Magnificat Center. He and Lentz began talking of how they could build in more programs at the center

At the time of that discussion, the nearby Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis opened a new cancer institute in 2011, allowing more patients to be treated. Recognizing the great work the medical community does with treating the body and the mind, Johnson and Lentz looked to the need for spiritual care for cancer patients.

The result: Spiritual Strengths Cancer Care.

"They decided that they could teach people with cancer or their caregivers to learn about their spiritual strengths and to use those strengths in whatever they're going to be faced with along their journey--so that's where the name came from," said Mary Costello, a seasoned registered nurse who runs the program at the Magnificat Center.

The program helps people with cancer and their caregivers to not only accept their situation but to come to peace--to recognize that God is in you, Johnson said.

"There is a cancer epidemic out there ... and I see it as a phenomenal time for meeting God," Johnson said.

The goal of the program, he said, is to provide a new story "of what cancer is for both the cancer patient and the cancer caregiver ... that they are not helpless, nor are they alone ... that God is always with them" and they have spiritual strengths to "confront the cancer with new resolve, but also show them new ways of living fully during and after cancer" with hope, faith, courage, strength, perseverance and "most of all ... love!"

The plan was to start the program in January 2012, but things fell into place to start in August 2011. Two weeks later, Lentz was diagnosed with cancer. She died Dec. 22. "We felt like it was meant to be that we got it accomplished before she passed away," Costello said.

The developers of the program clarify that this is not an alternative to medical attention--it's complementary.

Sickness is a physical ailment, whereas illness is our personal, emotional, psychological and spiritual reactions to our sickness, Johnson says, and healing and curing are two different things. Curing is what doctors do--it's a physical remedy to a sickness a person has. But healing looks at the emotional, psychological and spiritual things that happen when a person has cancer, such as anxiety and loneliness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Finding Strength in the Midst of Illness: Center Guides Patients and Their Supporters to Discover Spiritual Healing in Their Journeys with Cancer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.