Spiritual Support Services at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center


Spiritual Support Services at Banner MD Anderson
The impact of your gift to the
Kraft Chaplaincy Endowment is
doubled by the generosity of
Shirley and Burnell Kraft. 

Shirley and Burnell Kraft have supported chaplaincy services at Banner Health medical centers, including Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, for many years. Now, they have generously pledged $1 million in matching funds to establish a permanent endowment for spiritual support services for cancer patients across Arizona, now and for generations to come.

This year alone, nearly 1.7 million Americans will hear the dreaded words, “You have cancer.” A cancer diagnosis evokes any number of emotions—shock, fear, grief, anger, disbelief, anxiety, and depression chief among them. For many patients, it also gives rise to spiritual distress. Helping patients deal with these feelings is a critical aspect of first-rate cancer care.

Studies have shown that cancer patients with a positive sense of spiritual well-being report lower levels of anxiety and depression, are better able to cope with a difficult diagnosis, and more able to find meaning in their cancer experience. Contrarily, when spiritual needs go unmet, patients report a weaker sense of wellbeing and less satisfaction with the quality of their care. Increased costs for end-of-life care have been associated with a failure to address patients’ spiritual needs. While patients identify spirituality as an important feature of their cancer journey, getting their spiritual needs met within the clinical setting can be a challenge. Physicians, nurses, and other health care staff are necessarily focused, first and foremost, on treating the patient’s medical issues.

Increasingly, spiritual care professionals such as Chaplains are considered integral members of an interdisciplinary oncology team. Only they are trained to formally assess a patient’s spiritual needs and resources and to develop a spiritual care plan. Chaplains also serve the needs of medical staff, whose daily work with seriously ill and terminal patients can exact a heavy emotional toll.

A professionally certified Health Care Chaplain is an invaluable resource for cancer patients and care providers alike. Chaplains are spiritual leaders who have extended education in pastoral care, which equips them to provide spiritual support to people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.

Customized and compassionate care

Banner Health employs a chaplain at each of its large in-patient medical centers. These vital spiritual care professionals cater to the emotional and spiritual needs of patients, their families and hospital staff.

In addition to ministering to patients and their families, Chaplains offer spiritual intervention in crisis situations. They facilitate sacramental, ritual, and devotional experiences and lead interfaith and ecumenical worship services in group settings. They also accompany physicians on patient rounds, respond to emergency calls, and train and oversee volunteers.

Burnell and Shirley Kraft

The Kraft family’s previous gifts have supported a full-time Chaplain at the Cancer Center, as well as at Banner Del E. Webb and Banner Baywood medical centers, to give patients the emotional and spiritual support they need when facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

As plans are underway to expand Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center into Central Phoenix, the Northwest Valley and Colorado, the Krafts have provided critically important philanthropic support, once again, with the establishment of the Kraft Chaplaincy Endowment. This permanent fund will support a professional Chaplain dedicated to Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center’s expansion sites. Dedicated Chaplains will make a world of difference for oncology patients and those supporting and caring for them.