Should I Do Traditional Ceremony Before I My Teatment Begins?
Should I Do Traditional Ceremony Before My Teatment Begins?

The answers below are what we have learned from other Native survivors who have enrolled in the "National Native American Cancer Survivor’s Support Network since 1997.

  • It was very helpful to the cancer patient and the family or loved ones to take part in a spiritual healing or cleansing ceremony prior to having the surgery, chemo or radiation
  • Some patients prefer to do traditional Indian ceremonies and others prefer organized religious ceremonies. Both are helpful.
  • Many of our traditional Indian ceremonies need three to six months to prepare for them
  • Ideally, no more that two-to-four weeks passes between the time of the medical diagnosis and the beginning of your treatment
  • You need to explain what happens in general terms so that the provider can understand the ceremony and help you prepare and complete the ceremony without hurting progress you are making against the cancer
  • The provider needs to know if:
    • You will be dancing for several days
    • You will be going without sleep for several days
    • You will not be eating or drinking fresh water for several days
  • Traditional Indian Healers help patients and work with western medical providers in several ways:
    • Do prayers and blessings for the patients and other family and loved ones so that surgery or other treatment is not delayed
    • Train a family member or loved one to go through ceremony in your honor
  • Providers and Traditional Indian Healers can help you prepare to do your own ceremony after your treatment has been completed and you have healed
    • This is usually 1-2 years after you have finished all of your surgery, chemo or radiation treatments
    • It takes your body a long time to fully recover and most of our healing ceremonies are very tiring
    • The western medical provider also needs to give you permission for a physically demanding preparation
  • The provider may need to talk with the traditional Indian healer about the need for you to have something:
    • To eat while you are taking medication (e.g., Taxol drugs)
    • To drink fresh, bottled water
  • Such behaviors are rarely allowed during traditional Indian ceremonies, but healers explain why you need to do this to the other Natives doing ceremony so that they understand and are supportive to you
  • Your healer will work with you so that you can do ceremony and still follow western medical instructions
    • They may ask you to go into the teepee or covered, private area when you drink or eat food before taking your medications so that it is not obvious to the other Natives who are also doing ceremony
  • Survivors from the Network agree that it is important to take part in some type of spiritual ceremony.
    • Since Traditional Indian ceremonies may require months of preparation, most Healers will pray and bless you using a short ceremony at your home or his so that treatment is not delayed.
    • Once you go through even this shorter ceremony, almost all of the survivors from the Network felt they went into treatment in a positive way.
    • These patients also felt stronger spiritually and more at ease or accepting of their current health situation
    • They also felt that they healed better after having even the brief ceremony.
  • Remember: The ceremonies that require months of preparation need to be done by a family member or loved one in your place, rather than you delaying western medical treatment.
  • It is very important that you do not delay starting western medical treatment (surgery, chemo, radiation) for more than a few weeks after receiving your cancer diagnosis.

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