How Faith Can Help Cancer Patients’ Journey to Recovery
- Country singer Toby Keith, 62, says his stomach cancer journey has been “a roller coaster,” but he’s feeling “pretty good” and much better this year than he was last year this time. He received the inaugural Icon Award for dedicating 30 years of his life to producing record hits and giving back.
- Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021. According to the National Cancer Institute, stomach or gastric cancer begins in the cells lining the stomach.
- Part of Keith’s treatment included chemotherapy, and while we do not know the exact type of chemo he’s receiving, chemotherapy does come with side effects, which may include nausea, hair loss, or weight changes. Observant fans noticed his weight loss amid cancer treatment.
- Keith relied on his faith to help him along his cancer journey. A study published in Cancer includes data that found “69% of cancer patients reported praying for their health” compared to “only 45% of the general U.S. population.”
- New York City Presbyterian Pastor Tom Evans previously told SurvivorNet that faith could help people cope with the complex emotions that come with cancer.
Country icon Toby Keith, 62, emotionally returns to the big stage at the People’s Choice Country Awards. The showcase was his biggest live performance since being diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021. While receiving the inaugural Icon award for his 30 years in music, Keith’s cancer prognosis is equally important, which he describes as going “pretty good.”
“You have good days and bad days, but it’s a little bit of a roller coaster, but I’m doing a lot better than I was around this time last year,” Keith told E News during a red-carpet interview.Read More
“My faith…I’ve always rode with a prayer, and as long as I have him with me, I’m cool,” Keith added.
It’s commonplace for cancer patients to rely on their faith to help them remain in a positive headspace amid their journeys.
Keith was the first to receive the Country Icon Award during the special evening. He also performed “Don’t Let the Old Man In” at the awards show, delighting supportive fans.
“As a talented songwriter and powerhouse performer, Keith has touched the hearts of fans across the globe,” Cassandra Tyron, the senior vice president of Entertainment Live Events at NBCUniversal, said in a statement regarding Keith’s upcoming award at the People’s Choice Country Awards on September 28.
In addition to Keith’s award-winning music career, his work behind the scenes contributed to the prestigious recognition. His foundation raised nearly 2 million dollars to help pediatric cancer patients and their families. He also has a long history of supporting military troops and their families. His efforts even earned him recognition from the USO in recent years.
Expert Stomach Cancer Resources
- New Hope For Stomach Cancer: Immunotherapy Drug Opdivo Now Approved As a First Treatment
- 5 Life Lessons We Learned From Mister Rogers, Who Died 18 Years Ago From Stomach Cancer
- Remembering Legendary Western Actor John Wayne, Who Passed of Stomach Cancer Over 40 Years Ago: The Importance of Clinical Trials
- Floss Today to Slash Your Chances of Stomach and Esophageal Cancer Tomorrow
Keith has been battling stomach cancer since 2021. According to the National Cancer Institute, stomach or gastric cancer begins in the cells lining the stomach.
His treatment has involved chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Chemotherapy involves cancer-killing drugs given to patients orally or intravenously.
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment method that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. We do not know what kind of chemo or immunotherapy he is undergoing for treatment at this time.
Earlier this summer, in an interview with the Oklahoman, “Basically, everything is in a real positive trend. You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare,” the country singer said of his cancer journey.
Although Keith still has all the loveable attributes that’s made him special over the last three decades, observant fans have noticed he has lost some weight since his diagnosis. Body changes can be another side effect of cancer.
Psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin shares with SurvivorNet some tips cancer patients can explore to help manage the emotional toll body changes can have during treatment.
WATCH: Dealing with body image during cancer treatment.
She says cancer warriors should learn to take ownership of the part (or parts) of their body most impacted by cancer treatment. She adds although they may represent “fear and pain,” they also represent “strength and courage.”
How Faith Can Help Cancer Warriors Cope
As noted earlier, Keith relying on his faith is common among cancer patients coping with their diagnosis.
A study published in Cancer includes data that found “69% of cancer patients reported praying for their health” compared to “only 45% of the general U.S. population.”
Cancer psychologist Dr. Andrew Kneier helped co-author “Coping with Cancer: Ten Steps toward Emotional Well-Being.” He also co-authored a column published by Stanford Medicine with Rabbi Jeffery M. Silberman, director of spiritual care at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. They offer more context to the impact faith has on cancer patients.
“A person’s faith or spirituality provides a means for coping with illness and reaching a deeper kind of inner healing,” Kneier and Silberman said.
“Coping means different things to different people: it can involve finding answers to the questions that illness raises, it can mean seeking comfort for the fears and pain that illness brings, and it can mean learning how to find a sense of direction at a time of illness. Religious teachings can help a person cope in all of these dimensions,” Kneier and Silberman continued.
WATCH: Turning to Faith During a Cancer Journey.
New York City Presbyterian Pastor Tom Evans tells SurvivorNet about the importance of coping with the complex web of feelings you may be experiencing after a challenging health diagnosis, such as cancer.
“It’s important to reach out in a simple prayer to God, even if you’ve never prayed before, you don’t know what to say, a heartfelt plea, ‘God, help me, be with me,'” Pastor Evans told SurvivorNet.
“You can reach out to God, and you can reach out to people, your friends and family, and say, ‘I can’t do this on my own. I need you.’ “It’s in that willingness to be open and to receive that we can find something deeper that we never would’ve encountered without this hardship,” Evans continued.
SurvivorNetTV produced a special episode, “Turning to Faith,” where we followed the journeys of four women and how they turned to faith to get them through their diagnoses.