The impetus for this qualitative study was the premise expressed by lay people that nursing terminally ill cancer patients must be depressing and difficult to cope with. Its focus was nurses' stress and coping strategies, both secular and religious. Data was collected using a narrative life-story approach, and then Lazaruz and Folkman's coping theory and Pargament's theory on the psychology of religion were used during the analysis of the data. Several factors were identified, related to the individual and group levels, that influence a nurse's identity and professional development. A person's life orientation was suggested as a first concept for developing a professional paradigm that includes caritas as a main orienting factor. Directed by the nurse's secular and religious orientation, competence develops, making it possible to understand, analyze, manage, and appreciate the significance of the professional work of caring.