DIRECTOR OF FAITH-BASED PROGRAMS AT CANCER TREATMENT CENTERS OF AMERICA[R] (CTCA)
"Overcoming cancer often requires a heroic amount of physical, emotional and spiritual strength," according to Reverend Percy McCray, Director of Faith-Based Programs at Cancer Treatment Centers of America[R] (CTCA). Rev. McCray works with dedicated pastoral staff at the five regional CTCA[R] hospitals.
Every day, Rev. McCray helps support hospital clergy to build bridges from despair to hope. "The goal of pastoral care at CTCA is to provide an ecumenical umbrella of spiritual support for patients, family members and staff so persons of any faith can be strengthened, motivated and inspired to combat cancer," he says.
In creating an environment endemic to healing and recovery, pastoral care providers are a great source of comfort for patients and families. Many patients with cancer rely on spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to help them cope with their disease. Many caregivers also rely on this type of spiritual coping.
According to Rev. McCray, each person may have different spiritual needs, depending on cultural and religious traditions. For some seriously ill patients, spiritual well-being may affect how much anxiety they feel about death. For others, it may affect what they decide about end-of-life treatments. Some patients and their family caregivers may want to talk about spiritual concerns, but may feel unsure about how to bring up the subject.
"We've found that doctors' support of spiritual well-being in very ill patients helps improve their quality of life," says Rev. McCray. Health care providers who treat patients coping with cancer are looking at new ways to help them with religious and spiritual concerns.
At CTCA Rev. McCray initiated development of a broad-based program, Our Journey of Hope[R] (OJOH), to give spiritual leaders who counsel cancer patients tools to lift their spirits and provide hope. While it involves prayer, counsel, visits and assistance, it is centered on bringing spiritual hope and help to patients and their caregivers, family and friends.
"This requires an understanding of the impact of cancer, how people react to it and how God has called us to respond," he says. This ministry program was created because of the...