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Cancer- Sense of Purpose

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If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer a therapy that you won’t hear about will be to develop a sense of purpose. And, if you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, the last thing on your mind will be your sense of purpose.

I can’t blame you. When I was first diagnosed my mind was consumed by learning about my cancer, learning about therapies and thinking about death. My cancer is incurable according to conventional oncology so…

But make no mistake. Conventional oncology’s focus will be to treat your cancer. This is not a criticism of conventional oncology. It’s a statement of fact. The more I research and learn about cancer, all cancers, the more I learn about the importance of the cancer patient’s mental therapies.

And developing a sense of purpose, according to the research linked and excerpted below, is a therapy that may be just as important as any chemotherapy regimen.

What are some mind-body therapies that newly diagnosed cancer patients should consider?

Mind-body therapies are complementary approaches that aim to promote the connection between the mind and body to enhance overall health and well-being. While these therapies are not a substitute for conventional cancer treatments, they may help improve the quality of life for cancer patients by addressing aspects of the physical, emotional, and psychological experience. Here are some mind-body therapies that cancer patients may consider:

  1. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): MBSR incorporates mindfulness meditation and awareness techniques to help individuals manage stress, anxiety, and pain. It has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients in reducing symptoms and improving overall well-being.
  2. Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, breath control, and meditation. It can help cancer patients improve flexibility, reduce stress, and enhance overall physical and mental well-being. Some cancer centers even offer specialized yoga classes for cancer patients.
  3. Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a mind-body practice that involves slow, gentle movements and deep breathing. It has been shown to improve balance, flexibility, and overall physical functioning in cancer patients.
  4. Guided Imagery: Guided imagery involves creating a mental image or scenario to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Cancer patients can use guided imagery to visualize their bodies healing and coping with treatment.
  5. Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation and focused attention to help individuals enter a state of heightened suggestibility. It may be used to manage pain, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being in cancer patients.
  6. Art Therapy: Art therapy allows cancer patients to express their emotions and thoughts through artistic mediums. It can be a creative outlet for coping with the challenges of cancer and its treatments.
  7. Music Therapy: Music therapy involves using music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. It can provide relaxation, alleviate stress, and improve mood in cancer patients.
  8. Breathwork: Various breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing exercises, can help cancer patients manage stress and anxiety. Controlled breathing may also assist in pain management.
  9. Massage Therapy: Massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues to promote relaxation and alleviate muscle tension. It can help reduce anxiety and improve the overall sense of well-being in cancer patients.
  10. Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. Some cancer patients find acupuncture helpful in managing symptoms like pain, nausea, and fatigue.

I  figured out my own sense of purpose as a cancer survivor when I launched The Galen Foundation DBA PeopleBeatingCancer.  Cancer patients of all types from all over the world email me with questions about their cancer and I provide experience based and research based answers.

If you want to read why PeopleBeatingCancer.org gives me a sense of purpose, simply read the testimonials. 

Have you been diagnosed with cancer? What type? What stage? If you’re interested in learning more about evidence-based non-conventional therapies to manage your cancer let me know- David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Association Between Life Purpose and Mortality Among US Adults Older Than 50 Years

A growing body of literature suggests that having a strong sense of purpose in life leads to improvements in both physical and mental health and enhances overall quality of life. There are interventions available to influence life purpose; thus, understanding the association of life purpose with mortality is critical…


Purpose in life was assessed for the 2006 interview period with a 7-item questionnaire from the modified Ryff and Keyes Scales of Psychological Well-being evaluation using a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 6, with higher scores indicating greater purpose in life; for all-cause and cause-specific mortality analyses, 5 categories of life purpose scores were used (1.00-2.99, 3.00-3.99, 4.00-4.99, 5.00-5.99, and 6.00).

Main Outcomes and Measures

All-cause and cause-specific mortality were assessed between 2006 and 2010. Weighted Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate life purpose and mortality.


Of 6985 individuals included in the analysis, 4016 (57.5%) were women, the mean (SD) age of all participants was 68.6 (9.8) years, and the mean (SD) survival time for decedents was 31.21 (15.42) months (range, 1.00-71.00 months). Life purpose was significantly associated with all-cause mortality in the HRS (hazard ratio, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.57-3.75, comparing those in the lowest life purpose category with those in the highest life purpose category). Some significant cause-specific mortality associations with life purpose were also observed (heart, circulatory, and blood conditions: hazard ratio, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.62-4.38).

Conclusions and Relevance

This study’s results indicated that stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality. Purposeful living may have health benefits. Future research should focus on evaluating the association of life purpose interventions with health outcomes, including mortality. In addition, understanding potential biological mechanisms through which life purpose may influence health outcomes would be valuable.”


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