The concept of death and the association journey towards this state has been the focus of intense interest among psychologists, clinicians and therapists for the last few decades. Efforts towards a better understanding of the psychological side of death and dying have been mostly due to the significant increase in the number of case of physician-assisted suicide, as well as spiritual awareness and religiosity. There are currently an increasing number of reports that link spirituality and healing (O’Mahony et al. , 2005).
Analysis of the psychological and spiritual condition of terminally ill patients, as well as their immediate family relatives, will provide a means to better understand the dynamic conditions that may be associated with their journey to the end of life. When a patient is informed by his physician that he has cancer, his life suddenly changes in an instant. The patient’s state of mind is filled with both fear and hope, that maybe there is a cure to this and that maybe he will directly proceed to his last few months on this planet.
In addition, a patient’s knowledge of having cancer affects his immediate family (Lipsman et al. , 2007). Research has indicated that several factors have facilitated cancer patients in going through the difficulty journey of life with cancer. It has been reported that communication has helped patients express their worries and concerns regarding their new health condition (Bar-Tal et al. , 2005). The value of the family’s perceptions of cancer becomes an essential part of the mental and emotional condition of the cancer patient.
It has been established that the attitude of the patient’s family has influenced the degree of hope and faith in the patient. As for the case of Jimmy H, a two-year old boy with terminal cancer, the parents of this young boy have been very supportive and encouraging, regardless of the knowledge that the radiation therapy were only palliative and were not actually curing the patient. Yet the parents never gave up on supporting their little boy and not even one of the parents showed a trace of doubt that things will turn out to be okay for their little boy, or for themselves as parents.
The radiation therapist, Franklin, is amazed at the strength in spirit that this family has shown, amidst the grave knowledge that their little boy will be gone soon. This case study shows that amidst the hardships and fear of a serious illness like cancer, human beings still find a way to accept the truth and learn from it. The case of Jimmy H and his parents battling cancer is a story of resilience and hope, when the normal reaction of any other individual to a life of cancer is helplessness, hopelessness, anger and distress.
The family of Jimmy H shows that death could be regarded as the end stage of a journey and that their own attitudes during this journey may be happy or sad, depending on what they chose it to be. It is the decision of Jimmy H’s family to live the rest of their son’s life with hope, faith and love, regardless of the pain that their son would experience during his last few months on earth. The constant prayers that the family has been doing have also helped them accept the truth that cancer is present in their son.
There are reports that describe the influence of prayer on healing, with supporting medical explanations for the improvement of the conditions of both patients and the members of the family (Anandarajah, 2008). It is also possible that the family of Jimmy H understands their current situation from another point of view and this is through finding the mean of life, which is in their case not based on cancer, but on the opportunity to give love and care for one another, despite the shortness and difficulty of the condition of their family.
It is thus understandable that even with cancer in the family, Jimmy H and his parents could still face their lives with calmness and hope, because they see that there is more to life than pain and suffering but the chance of sharing their lives with each other and providing themselves as good examples of perseverance to others as well. References Anandarajah, G. (2008).
The 3H and BMSEST models for spirituality in multicultural whole-person medicine. Annals in Family Medicine, 6,448-458. Bar-Tal, Y. , Barnoy, S. and Zisser, B. (2005). Whose informational needs are considered? A comparison between cancer patients and their spouses’ perceptions of their own and their partners knowledge and informational needs. Social Science Medicine, 60,1459-1465. Lipsman, N. , Skanda, A. , Kimmelman, J. and Bernstein, M.
(2007). The attitudes of brain cancer patients and their caregivers towards death and dying: A qualitative study. BMC Palliative Care, 6,7-17. O’Mahony, S. , Goulet, J. , Kornblith, A. , Abbatiello, G. , Clarke, B. , Kless-Siegel, S. , Breitbart, W. and Payne, R. (2005). Desire for hastened death, cancer pain and depression: report of a longitudinal observational study. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 29,446-457.