If people have support and a sense of spirituality, she said, they may not be cured but they can be healed. "You need to look at curing versus healing," Berger said. "Cure is cure of an illness. Healing is a feeling of wholeness of an individual."
And the notion of "giving up hope" is flawed, she said.
"I don't think that you necessarily give up hope," Berger said. "When you are chronically ill, you may hope for other things. Hope just changes so that rather than hoping for a cure, you hope to get to somebody's wedding or you hope to see the sunset the following day. You don't hope for the same things as hoping for a cure. That's not losing hope. It's very different, and they can still feel healed."
To learn about coping with chronic illness, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Peter A. Ubel, M.D., professor, medicine and psychology, and director, Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Ann Berger, M.D., chief, pain and palliative care, U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Md.
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