After finding out you have any type of cancer, you may think about making lifestyle changes to improve your condition. Here are some ways to begin positively impacting your health now to improve your prognosis, make your treatments easier, and help prevent cancer from returning.
Be physically active during cancer treatment.
Studies show that exercising is generally considered safe during cancer treatment, and it can significantly improve your health, including muscle strength, fatigue, balance, and depression. Consult your radiation oncologist about what kind of movement will be best for you.
Physical activity after your cancer diagnosis can also lead to a longer life and a lower risk of cancer returning among people with breast, prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancer.
Eat well to help with managing cancer.
A healthy diet can help you recover more quickly, manage side effects from treatment, and improve your general health. It can also lower the probability of developing cancer in the future. There are many health benefits associated with eating fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and fish. Try avoiding red meat, refined grains, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and an overabundance of desserts and fried foods.
However, before taking any vitamins or supplements, consult with your primary care physician or specialist. If you’re currently undergoing cancer treatment, it’s important to work with a nutritionist or dietitian who has a specialization in oncology to create a safe eating plan for you.
Get enough sleep.
Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. This improves your mood, coping ability, weight control, attention, memory, and more. Sticking to one set bedtime can help with this, as can avoiding stimulants like caffeine and sugar. Also, avoid consuming alcohol, as this affects the body’s ability to rest and can also have adverse reactions with certain medications.
Cancer is a very emotional experience—many liken it to a roller coaster. It’s important to take care of both the body and mind while you’re in treatment, so don’t forget to seek emotional support in addition to medical support. Psychotherapists, social workers, and spiritual leaders can teach you and your caregiver how to handle:
- The intense emotional reactions to your diagnosis and the treatment process
- Depression and anxiety
- The impact on relationships
- Spirituality and finding meaning
- Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
- Feeling more in control through mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- Use of massage, relaxation, and acupuncture
Get practical and emotional support.
Having a supportive network, especially emotional support, is important for your health. Studies have shown that people with cancer who had support lived longer and had a better quality of life.
Here’s how you can build a support system:
- Reach out for a listening ear. People usually want to help but don’t know-how, so you need to be specific.
- Join a support group. Communicating with others who are going through the same thing may help you cope.
- Support others. This takes the focus off of yourself.
Reducing your stress level can generally help you improve your physical and mental health. Here are a few tips for managing your stress:
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.
- Take small periods of time throughout the day to meditate or reflect.
- Try to set aside 20 minutes or more daily for stress management techniques.
More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.