Battling Cancer Depression and Anxiety with Prayer, Scripture and Companionship

Hidden among the many layers of a cancer struggle are the burdens of depression and anxiety.  Although studies have been done to look at the impact of religion and spirituality on cancer (1), the time has come for programs to be designed to utilize Christian components of the faith to relieve the depression and anxiety during a cancer journey.  This study evaluated the ability of Cancer Companion’s group Bible study meetings to decrease depression and anxiety in cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

Background

While depression and anxiety may hinder cancer treatment and recovery, it has also been found to impact quality of life and survival. (2)  One study in British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed for cancer of the bowel, prostate, pancreas, and esophagus and for leukemia the death rates of the group reporting more depression and anxieties were consistently higher than the death rates of the group with less depression and anxiety. (3)

A large body of research has demonstrated the stress-buffering effects of religion and spirituality on physiological processes such as reduced cardiovascular reactivity, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation, and inflammation. (4)   In regards to cancer, one meta-analysis article published by the National Institutes of Health suggest that greater religion and spirituality is associated with better cancer patient-reported physical health. (5)   These results underscore the importance of attending to patients’ religious and spiritual needs as part of comprehensive cancer care. (6)   The Cancer Companion program used in this study was created in response to this understanding.

The Cancer Companion program focuses on improving a participant’s emotional self- regulation through the Christian components of prayer, scripture and companionship.  A study which looked specifically at cancer patient’s emotional self-regulation discovered that religious fellowship can enhance positive emotion through social support, while religious and spiritual rituals and faith can provide hope, forgiveness, comfort, love, and other emotional benefits. (7)

Methods:

The program, titled Seeing God in Your Cancer Journey, consists of 9 Christian Bible study meetings lead by trained volunteer facilitators covering the topics of Faith, Questions, Healing, Prayer, Stress reduction, Relationships, Communication and Healthy Living.  Each group is equipped with Participant Guide books, Facilitator Guide books and Interactive Videos to be used at each meeting.  Volunteer facilitators have completed six 7-hour online training including the topics Impact of Cancer, Connecting with Participants and Use of Program Materials

The percentage of participants who identified as Christian prior to entering the program was 96.3%.  Participants include cancer patients, survivors and caregivers invited to participate in the program through church announcements, personal invitations, website and social media.  Each meeting was held at the trained facilitator’s church.

The program’s outcomes are:

  1. Increase participant’s understanding of who God is, the character of God.
  2. Increase comfort level for God’s role in my cancer journey.
  3. Improve participant’s communication with the important people in their life.
  4. Increase the variety of topics the participant prays about.
  5. Improve participant’s depression.
  6. Improve participant’s anxiety.

Participants were asked to complete evaluation forms at the end of the last meeting.  Since the groups were held in churches across the country, the facilitator mailed the evaluations to the home office in St Louis to be tabulated and reviewed.  Total participant evaluations received is 110.

Completed paper participant evaluations were entered into Constant Contact Survey Builder to gather results.

Results:

Through the Cancer Companion Program,
My understanding of who God is, the character of God, has… Increased a lot The same Not increased
57% 43% 0%
God’s role in my cancer journey feels… More comfortable The same Less comfortable
88% 11% 1%
My communication with the important people in my life has… Improved a lot The same Not improved
57% 43% 0%
The variety of topics I pray about…

 

Increased a lot The same Not increased
73% 27% 0%

 

 

During my Cancer Companion Sessions, Improved Greatly Improved Stayed the same Gotten worse
My anxiety has… 22% 69% 8% 1%
 
My depression has… 13% 66% 20% 1%
 

Conclusions:

Results suggest that this Christian Bible Study group programs can improve the emotional wellbeing of Christian cancer patients and caregivers by improving their experience of depression and anxiety.  These results underscore the importance of designing and utilizing faith-based programs as a component of a comprehensive cancer care plan when appropriate.

  1. https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/01/30/depression-anxiety-up-mortality-risk-for-some-cancers/115787.html
  2. https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-6181-4 Depression and anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer: a growing clinical and research priority
  3. https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/01/30/depression-anxiety-up-mortality-risk-for-some-cancers/115787.html
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4618080/
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
Posted in Cancer Information | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Even When It Hurts by Hillsong United


Cancer has it’s bad days. This is a wonderful song for the bad days. Acknowledging the struggle yet filled with the wonder of praising in the hardest times.

Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in your love
Come like grace again

Even when my strength is lost
I’ll praise you
Even when I have no song
I’ll praise you
Even when it’s hard to find the words
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing your praise

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise you
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise

And my heart burns only for you
You are all you are all I want
And my soul waits only for you
And I will sing till the morning has come

Lord my heart burns only for you
You are all you are all I want
And my soul waits only for you
And I will sing till the miracle comes

I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise

Even when the morning comes
I’ll praise you
Even when the fight is won
I’ll praise you
Even when my time on earth is done
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing your praise

Posted in Uplifting Songs | Leave a comment

Cancer and the Struggle

  •  Does it seem to you that cancer is the result of living in a fallen world? Or do you believe that cancer is the result of something you did or someone else did to you?

 

Cancer is not punishment. God did not give you cancer.

He gave you His Son so you may live a life of hope in the midst of suffering. Did you catch that? Hope in the midst of suffering.

Before we go on, it’s important that you know one thing: your struggles are not stronger than the love Christ has for you.  There is no place you have been and nowhere you will go that the love of Christ does not go with you.   Look at today’s verse:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Look at the list in the verse above about believers and answer these questions:

  • Is there anything in your past, anything that you have done or was done to you, that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Is there anything in your future, any pain, any procedure, any mistake that that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Is there any evil, any demon, or evil person or evil deed that that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Even in death, whether it’s from cancer or a car accident or dying in your sleep, could you be separated from the love of God?

Pray with me:

Sweet Jesus, come into my heart and let me know that this promise is true: that truly nothing in heaven or on Earth can separate me from Your love.  Your love is complete, it is unending and it is unstoppable.  I praise You for your love.  Let it fill my heart to overflowing.

Amen

 

Posted in Cancer Devotionals | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is Bigger Than Playing in Creeks

Our family plays in creeks.  Other families have leisure pastimes like biking or camping or playing softball.   You may be thinking, “Oh, sure.  We did that once.”  Not like us.  This isn’t a casual activity. This is serious. My kids have grown up playing in creeks, I played in creeks and even my dad played in creeks.  We have a creek-playing season that begins on Mother’s Day and ends on that dreaded first day of school.  We even have creek shoes.  You can’t go out and buy creek shoes; they have to be the too small pair of tennis shoes from last summer with your toe poking out of the top to really qualify. We always know when we have a creek neophyte on our hands, because of their store-bought water shoes.  We sympathize with their sheltered ways.

So what do you do exactly when you play in creeks?  You can hike in creeks; skip rocks in creeks and even eat lunch on a log in the middle of the creek.  But the real creek-playing enthusiast knows the goal is to build a dam, thus creating a small pool in the middle of the creek.  After thorough investigation, you select a site with an adequate amount of large rocks in the vicinity.  Then everybody takes the biggest rocks they can carry and dump them in a row across the water.  The first rocks dump to the bottom of the creek and, for all apparent reasons, nothing happens.  The water continues to rush by as if you’d done nothing.    But you keep fetching rocks and piling them on top of each other until you start to see, in one small area, the water is beginning to slow down and create a pool. The excitement in the crew mounts, and more rocks find their way to their rightful place. Finally, the pool expands until the water can’t be stopped by the rocks anymore.  The water pushes the rocks down, first in one spot and then another.  That’s when I remember what my father taught me in a creek a long time ago: you can’t stop the water, you can only bend it.  The water has to go down stream.  It may go around the dam, or through the dam or even over the dam, but somehow it will get to where it’s going.

God’s will is like the water, and your prayers are like the rocks, asking the creek to bend one way and then another.  When you pray for wisdom or peace or healing, you’re placing a rock in God’s will by asking for the desires of your heart.  God hungers to fill our every desire as long as His will still flows towards His reconciliation with His children.

Putting God’s purpose above our desires takes our relationship with God to a place where trust, faith and submission are more than just words.  Do we really believe that God knows what is best for us?

Sweet friend, believe these three things:

  • God is more than able to heal your cancer.
  • God is more than able to protect you through any treatment.
  • God is more than able to carry you to your heavenly home in His omnipotent, loving arms.

Trust Him.  He hears the prayers you speak, the prayers you think and especially the prayers you only feel.  God will always take care of you, His beloved child.

Posted in Cancer Devotionals | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thankful Cancer Survivor Week

Are you a Thankful Cancer Survivor?

Are you Thankful for a Cancer Survivor?

JOIN THE FUN!

Sunday, June 7th- Sunday, June 14th

In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Day

1. Post a Picture (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)

2. Share your thankfulness.

3. Use #ThankfulCancerSurvivor

Here are a couple sample posts!

 

 

Posted in Cancer Information | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Cancer and Thankfulness Devotional

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

1. You are not to be anxious about anything. Why? Because God is with you through everything!
2. So ask God for anything, but do it while thanking Him for your blessings. The idea of praying for cancer “thankfully” can be confusing. You don’t need to thank God for your cancer. Cancer is the pits. It’s a bad thing God can use for good, but it’s still a bad thing. So in keeping with this verse, for what should you thank God? You should thank Him for the true blessings in your life. These could be blessings from your past, the blessings of people, the blessings of God’s peace, comfort, strength, presence and so many more.

What do you think of praying with “thanksgiving?” Is it hard as you struggle to go to God with a thankful heart? Why or why not?

• Fill in the sections below to complete a Philippians 4:6 prayer.
Dear Jesus,
This cancer is hard. I feel the weight of it in ways I never imagined. But Lord, You are good. I thank You for…

And now I ask You for…

Amen

From Page 72 Seeing God in your Cancer Journey

Posted in Cancer Devotionals | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Download: National Cancer Resource Guide

Free Download:  National Cancer Resource Guide

Click Here to Download

Hundreds of resources for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

Categories include:

  • Clinical Trials
  • Educational Resources
  • Exercise/Movement
  • Financial Assistance
  • Food Nutritiaon
  • Houseing
  • Prescription Assistance
  • Support Groups
  • Transportation
Posted in Cancer Information | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Screenings and COVID-19

In 2021, cancer stories will begin “First, my cancer screening was postponed…”

Ever heard anyone say: “at least it’s the good kind of cancer?” Really? Is there a good kind of cancer? Of course not. But I would say it’s undisputed that if you’re going to have cancer, you want one that is detected early. Why? Cancer screening, early detection, and diagnosis have been proven to significantly improve patient survival rates and quality of life(1). That’s not just good news, that’s GREAT news!

The bad news? In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, routine cancer screenings have been postponed(2). Perhaps personally, waiting a few months to have your scheduled cancer screening could make little difference. Nationally, however, the impact of postponing routine cancer screenings for months could be huge. Consider the typical frequency of two types of screenings:

– 65.3% US women over 40 had mammograms from 2013-2015(3).
– 67.6% US men and women over 50 had colorectal screenings in 2014(4).

That amounts to hundreds of millions of screenings each year and hundreds of thousands of screenings each month – for just these two types of screenings. Because routine screenings, such as mammograms and colorectal exams, are now being postponed, we will have a lot of catching up to do after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

The nation is focusing on combating the serious concern of inadequate medical supplies necessary to survive this pandemic. The cancer community must also prepare for the overwhelming wave of cancer screenings, as well as the results of those screenings, coming after the postponement of routine screenings is lifted. The outcome of this wave of cancer screenings will not only impact cancer centers and hospitals, but also social service agencies, non-profits, and religious ministries which serve the cancer community.

In the meantime, what can you do?

  1. If you are having symptoms, call your doctor. This policy to postpone routine screenings does not apply to anyone having symptoms. Symptoms are a reason to be screened regardless of the COVID-19 restrictions in your area.
  2. If you have missed your regularly scheduled screening, reschedule as soon as you are able to. In this time of crisis, it is common to focus on immediate needs, such as furloughed jobs or loved ones living alone. Yet it is still important to care for urgent health concerns like cancer screenings.
  3. If you are unsure whether you are in need of a cancer screening, contact a doctor. The need for a cancer screening is determined by multiple factors such as age, current medical conditions, family medical history, etc.

Don’t let this time of national and world-wide tension push you to neglect your cancer screening. Your desire to avoid the possibility of receiving bad news is defeated by the proven benefits of getting your screening. The best weapon against cancer is early detection. Did you catch that? The best weapon against cancer is early detection. Schedule your cancer screening today.

BIO: Karen Tripp MS LMFT Author, Counselor and Executive Director Cancer Companions – As author of multiple books on cancer such as God is Bigger Than Your Cancer and a daughter of a colon cancer survivor, Karen brings her training as a Marriage and Family Therapist to her work with cancer families. Whether in her counseling, speaking, or administration of the nonprofit, Cancer Companions, Karen gives wisdom and meaning to coping with the chaos we call cancer. She, too, is currently awaiting a colonoscopy, which has been postponed due to the Coronavirus Crisis.


  1. “World Cancer Day 2019: Emphasis on Early Detection.” The ASCO Post, edited by James O. Armitage, ASCO, 4 Feb. 2019, www.ascopost.com/News/59711.
  2. Falco, Miriam. “Common Questions About the New Coronavirus Outbreak.” Cancer.org, American Cancer Society, 21 Apr. 2020, www.cancer.org/latest-news/common-questions-about-the-new-coronavirus-outbreak.html.
  3. National Center for Health Statistics.Health, United States, 2018. Hyattsville, MD. 2019.
  4. American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2017-2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2017.
Posted in Cancer Information | Leave a comment

Online Cancer Bible Study

 

Seeing God in Your Cancer Journey – 9 Weeks Bible Study

Join Karen Tripp for this new Online Cancer Bible Study.

Patients, Survivors, Caregivers and Loved Ones Welcome.

Discover the truth that Jesus wants to give you more than peace. He wants to give you bottomless strength, unsurmountable courage, abundant guidance, abounding joy, thriving relationships and above all hope.

Topics Covered in this Study: 

  1. Faith
  2. Questions
  3. Healing
  4. Prayer
  5. Stress Reduction
  6. Relationships
  7. Communication
  8. Healthy Living

Where:  Online via Zoom

This is a FREE event, materials will be provided.

Please register below:

Quarantine Online Cancer Bible Study Registration















Posted in Cancer Information | 4 Comments

How to Find Volunteers while in Quarantine: 3 Simple Steps

Let’s face it.  The special offer for member churches to receive FREE online Cancer Companions Training – a $110 value – is too good to pass up. On one hand it seems a little crazy to think about asking someone to consider something new while we’re in quarantine…

AND YET

We have all been provided more time, more awareness of online materials, and for some of us, more motivation to serve others.

So check out these three steps and check off what sounds like a good idea to you!

Step #1 Get the word out and compile a Potential Trainee List

 “WOW! $110 training for FREE! Who has a heart for cancer ministry?”

Download this free CC Facilitator Referrals Template!

Download this flyer to send to anyone who you think would be interested!

Step #2 Discover who is interested by sharing information.

“Are you interested in finding out more information about the ministry?”

For each person on Potential Volunteer Facilitator List:

Step #3 Register your trainee with Meagan Spaulding

Just send the person’s name and email address to our Operations Administrator and she will handle the rest! You can contact Meagan at meagan@cancer-companions.org.

 

That’s it!  We want as many teams as possible to be able to take this FREE opportunity to grow so that when this is all over, your Cancer Companions group will be stronger than ever! With this crisis, people coping with cancer need you more than ever. And remember, we are here for YOU so let us help!

If you have any questions or need help reaching out, please let us know.  You can contact me. Kristen Nelson, directly at kristen@cancer-companions.org or by phone at 202-996-8311 … I would LOVE to hear from you!  

Posted in Cancer Information | 1 Comment