Finding Meaning and Purpose during a Health Crisis

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Healthy Together Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Shannon Wesley is the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for the Northwest and a family doctor practicing with the Superior Family Health Organization in Thunder Bay. Palliative care is a philosophy of care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying. The goal of palliative care is to provide holistic, proactive, timely, and continuous care that supports patients to live as they choose and optimize their health, comfort, dignity, and security. Palliative care is especially important for cancer patients when they find trouble with breathing, pain, or upset stomach from getting cancer treatment.  Dr. Wesley feels the following information is worth sharing and discussing with your loved ones.
Dr. Shannon Wesley is the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for the Northwest and a family doctor practicing with the Superior Family Health Organization in Thunder Bay.
Palliative care is a philosophy of care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying. The goal of palliative care is to provide holistic, proactive, timely, and continuous care that supports patients to live as they choose and optimize their health, comfort, dignity, and security. Palliative care is especially important for cancer patients when they find trouble with breathing, pain, or upset stomach from getting cancer treatment.
Dr. Wesley feels the following information is worth sharing and discussing with your loved ones.

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – For most adults, good health and the ability to make personal choices are basic to meaningful living. You find meaning in working and earning a living, in your choices about recreation and leisure, and in controlling your daily activities. A life-limiting illness can shatter this sense of meaning and purpose. So, how can you re-build the sense that your life is meaningful?

Your meaning and purpose reflect your culture, your life experience and your personal nature. Although there is no one right way to make your life meaningful, this article provides some ideas that may help.

Finding meaning in the here and now

Most of us live our lives focused on the future. We make plans for our career, our children and our financial security. Illness can take the enjoyment out of thinking about the future. You may feel worried, frightened or uncertain about it. Or, you may feel that illness has taken away your ability to plan for the future, creating a hole in your life. Focusing on the present, instead of the future, may be one way to find new meaning.

Ways to stay in the here and now and to calm your fears about the future include:

  • focusing on today’s routines and getting on with them;
  • finding whatever is good about the present moment and being grateful for it;
  • adjusting to simpler tasks or smaller duties that give satisfaction.

It may be difficult for you to accept that life right now is enough and that you have much to live for in the moment. Even though life is difficult, you may find that there are still moments that offer joy, peace or appreciation. A visit from a close friend, for example, may help you see value in life, even in the midst of a difficult day.

Finding meaning and purpose in the midst of illness may seem like hard work. This may be especially true when you’re forced to look for meaning in completely new places. The payoff in knowing that your life has value, no matter how sick your body might be, is that you may find you’re able to accept your situation and feel better about it.

By Glen R. Horst, MDiv, DMin, BA

Spiritual Care Advisor, Canadian Virtual Hospice

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