You see them all the time in the news - statistics on the number of people who were in the hospital last year, the rate at which people will catch the flu this winter and numerous other statistics about some aspect of our health.
Researchers use these biological health statistics to figure out risk factors and develop ways to prevent, control and treat or manage disease.
Some of these statistics are considered vital to our health and well-being; others can trigger stress and create unhealthy conditions.
A ‘perfect bill of health’ seems illusive as more and more people fear they are never quite safe from the threat of being or becoming a negative ‘health statistic’.
One statistic that strikes fear into the heart of many a woman is wrapped in a pink ribbon. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and many biological trends lean towards increasing the risk of developing the disease.
But drawing health conclusions from risk factors and data analysis leads to accepting conditions that people everywhere are increasingly willing to challenge. ‘Unless we carefully think about what we’re going to do with this data, it ends up being excessive and might not be very useful for the patient’s health.’ warns Dr. Pelzman, associate professor of medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Instead of watching and searching for our susceptibility to risk factors or illness, we (like others) can learn to re-frame what we consider “vital statistics” – i.e. is our health based solely on biological factors. Consider for a moment if the source of our health and well-being is actually spiritually created and maintained by God. And, what if since God is good, we can expect our health to thus also be good?
This may seem like a radical shift in thought, especially when confronted with negative prognosis or diagnosis. But it can be done. Here’s how one woman re-framed her thinking when she became one of those breast cancer statistics.
Molly had discovered a lump in her breast – an experience at the time that was both painful and frightening. Her doctor, diagnosing breast cancer, recommended a series of treatments that he felt was the only recourse to save her life.
But Molly had experienced excellent results with a prayer-based approach to healthcare, and she decided to use that approach to quiet her fears and address the disease.
From her years of prayer and Bible study, she understood her God-given nature to be good. And, since good and sickness don’t go together, it made sense that no diseased or painful element was a part of her as a spiritual creation. Inspiration from a well-used spiritual guidebook and her Bible helped shift her thinking from being a biological health statistic to a beloved and perfect reflection of the one Creator.
In the ensuing months of prayerful study, she was encouraged by this Bible verse from Psalms: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (46:1)
Close family members recommended a follow-up exam and, although she had a feeling of assurance that all was well, she agreed. Medical tests indicated that there was no evidence of cancer. This was many years ago and there has been no recurrence.
What a change of mindset in Molly’s experience. Her understanding of where her health comes from and what she could expect kept her from becoming one more statistic – a victim of cancer.
Rethinking our health from a perspective of ever-present good in our lives and its source in an all-loving God gives us a new - and the most vital - statistic about our health.
Wendy Margolese is a self-syndicated columnist and writes regularly on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. She is the media liaison for Christian Science in Ontario. Contact her at Ontario@compub.org. Follow on Twitter: @wmargolese