My doctor found a lump in my neck that isn't going away and today I have a CT scan of it. This is when I would normally call someone and ask them for prayers. But since I am completely certain that that would be ridiculous, I am not sure what to "do." Think happy thoughts? Ignore it? Hope? I went for a massage to calm down and she put "hope" essential oil on me. Like it was going to infuse hope. I don't really believe that. I guess what you do is look into yourself for the hope and centeredness you need to face a scary thing. I do find strength in the people I love.
What do I do instead of pray?
I tend to meditate. I usually just sit in a chair, close my yes, and rest and focus my thoughts. I shove the fear aside and look at the problem as rationally as possible. If I need to put my faith in anything, then I put my faith in myself, modern science, and the people who love me.
People pray because they feel like their life or world is not in their control. So, assert some control, first over yourself, then over the situation. As others have pointed out, the first step is to remain calm and the second is to make a list of practical steps to take. Right now, the practical steps may simply consist of going about your life as if nothing is wrong--because that may actually be the case. Second, in your spare time, start researching cancer and cancer treatments (but, don't look at the pictures of people who actually had cancer, it's unpleasant and may have no application to you). Do things that make you happy if you don't feel like doing research. Once your doctor tells you what the lump is, then you can decide what to do next.
meditation IS good for the brain and the 'relaxation responce' is documented. Its a great stress reliever and no metaphysics is needed. Walking is also a great stress reliever and if you have a good friend to walk with and talk to.. its even better. Having someone around for support is really helpful. I'm not sure about the secular support groups...but that would be a great idea too.