Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Do You Believe in Cancer and Coronavirus Miracles? Here's research.

Are miracles real or just wishful thinking when a good health prognosis is wanted? Healthcare worker have to be sensitive to patients' spirituality and religious beliefs regarding death journeys. As a hospice volunteer, I noticed that many patients held strong beliefs about miracles that were important to them when making decisions about their health care. What about you? Do you believe in miracles? If so, you have lots of company.

Progression of cancer is an important example of a healthcare situation that requires patients to make decisions about their treatment. How does belief in miracles impact patients’ decisions? A study of 158 patients with advanced cancer, whom oncologists expected to die within 6 months, were assessed before and after the visit at which scan results were discussed. Before the visit, religious belief in miracles was also assessed. 

Approximately 78% of the participants reported at least some belief in miracles, with almost half endorsing the strongest possible belief. Religious beliefs in miracles were highly prevalent and diminished the impact of receiving negative news of cancer progression. Assessing patients' beliefs in miracles may help to optimize the effectiveness of news received during discussions about scan results.

Kevin Swinks is a Maryland man hailed as a COVID-19 "miracle" survivor. He spent 30 days in the ICU and was on a ventilator three times while at MedStar Franklin Square where he almost died. With the help of his care team after 31 days, Kevin finally was well enough to go home and share his miraculous story. He says, "Life is sweet," and healthcare workers who took care of him say his story inspires them as they care for others.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.