We asked a colleague recently how her chronic injury was doing, after she had suffered it for years. She replied great. She had met a masseuse who actually relieved her pain, after consulting nearly 20 doctors. She said that treatment plus the power of prayer solved her issues.
I winced inside.
Let me discuss the concept of prayer. I’m not someone who prays, being a spiritual atheist and all, but I’m totally pro-prayer. If it is your jam, I say embrace it. Prayer can decrease stress, help you manage overwhelming circumstances or keep your calmness steady, however I do not believe prayer can impact clinical outcomes (well, except in the case that stress does weaken your immune system, so in that sense, it can.) Prayer cannot cure physical ailments (or for that matter, decrease gun violence in the U.S., or make someone un-gay). The only reason why I am so passionate about this point is that there is awful thing in cancer care where patients are expected to “fight cancer” or become “cancer warriors,” which adds to their burden. Not only do they have to actually navigate course of treatment options and suffer them, they are expected to spiritually fight illness and experience a sense of failure when they are unsuccessful. F* that. I had an old grad school class die of cancer. You know what she said to her partner near her death bed? “I’m sorry I did not fight harder.”
I hate that she felt that.
Prayer is totes fine, but let’s not overstate our power of our personal fate. We have none. Sometimes, we are sh*t out of luck and the best thing we can do is accept it.
And on that cheerful note, hugs and kisses!