Spirituality and Sustaining Hope in Adolescents with Cancer: The Patients' View

Tullio Proserpio, Elena Pagani Bagliacca, Giovanna Sironi, Carlo Alfredo Clerici, Laura Veneroni, Maura Massimino, Andrea Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The trauma of the diagnosis of cancer during adolescence may affect the young people's spiritual sphere. Projects aiming to the global care of adolescents with cancer should consider also their spiritual needs: at our center, the dedicated multidisciplinary team of professionals includes a chaplain with a specific training. This article describes, throughout the patients' dialogs, how a chaplain can help patients to give voice to their emotions and thoughts about their sense of life and illness. Methods: From January 2016 to December 2017, 33 adolescent patients with solid tumors had from 2 to 12 one-to-one talks with the chaplain. We selected six specific clinical cases in which some important topics were discussed between the chaplain and the patients. Results: Patients' own voices were reported to describe some specific spiritual issues, particularly as regards how spirituality could sustain them in their need to continue to hope. Examples of specific questions during talks were as follows: "Why doesn't God do something?"; "What is the point of all this pain?"; "Why have I become ill? Why me?"; "What do you think will happen to me after I die?" Conclusions: This experience underlines the importance of the inclusion of the spiritual assistant within the multidisciplinary team dedicated to young people with cancer. The daily and constantly available presence of the chaplain in the ward, from the beginning of any treatment, can permit a good relationship with patients and help them to keep hope and move forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-40
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • adolescents
  • cancer
  • patient's voice
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • Youth Project

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Oncology


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