No doubt, cancer feels like an insurmountable obstacle. But it can be overcome and perhaps you’re one who is or has done so.
More than 15.5 million Americans with cancer in their history are alive today, according to 2016 data. And that number is projected to surpass 20 million by 2026. 1
As a cancer survivor, you face the opportunity to improve and sustain your health post treatment. Though you’re well some side-effects could remain.
But you can take a proactive approach.
cancer survivors should feel empowered to be their own advocates by proactively discussing their health questions and concerns with their physicians. They can also take control of their health by maintaining a healthy weight and diet, avoiding tobacco products, increasing physical activity, and reducing sun exposure. 2
Strategy for a healthy lifestyle
Following cancer treatment you’re eager to restore your health. This requires a strategy so you can enjoy your new life and renewed perspective.
There’s no need to to complicate the process. In fact, your entire strategy is lifestyle focused.
You’re a survivor. Now’s the time to take care of yourself and enjoy life.
If you heard the word, exercise, you might be tempted to skip this point. That said, an exercise routine (that focuses on movement) can improve your recovery and renewal.
- Increased strength and stamina
- Less depression, anxiety, and fatigue
- Better mood
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
- Reduced pain
- Quality sleep
- Immune strength that lowers your risk for cancer to recur
Start small. Add more movement to your lifestyle.
- Take the stairs
- Park further from your destination to add walking distance
- Walk daily
- Increase your pace during household tasks (cleaning, yard work, etc.)
- Stand up frequently after sitting periods
The American Cancer Society recommends adult cancer survivors exercise for at least 150 minutes a week, including strength training at least two days a week. 3
Realty is you won’t always feel like exercising. Give yourself a break on occasion especially if you still experience post treatment fatigue.
After a break, return to your exercise routine. And remember that adequate rest and recovery matter to a healthy lifestyle.
Speaking of rest
Routine restfulness will add margin to your recovery and renewal. Start with your sleep routine.
Sleep issues are common during and after cancer treatment. Your body has experienced changes, treatment side-effects, and stress.
Quality sleep is vital to recovery and lifestyle renewal.
- Sleep pauses your mind and body
- Sleep recharges your cognitive (thinking) skills
- Sleep improves your hormonal functions
- Sleep lowers your blood pressure
Bottom line: sleep improves your overall sense of well-being.
You can optimize your sleep quality by:
- Reducing or eliminating your caffeine intake a few hours before bedtime
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule (bedtime and awakening hours)
- Controlling your screen time (devices, etc) prior to bedtime
- Maintaining a peaceful, quiet bedroom
- Discussing any sleep related issues with your physician
Stressful situations are not easy to avoid. But you can reduce and manage the stress you allow to impact your life.
You might find that surviving cancer has stressed your physical, emotional, and social resources. Applying specific coping strategies can help you deal with stress and its effect on your life including depression and anxiety.
Manage your stress with:
- Relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness techniques
- Counseling and support groups
- Medication that treats anxiety or depression
- Replenishing social interactions with family and friends
- Lifestyle moderations
The key to each of these health enhancing strategies is finding what works for you and doing it! You don’t need to do a lifestyle overhaul. Instead, take small steps to improve your daily routine in ways that renews your health and well-being.
Simple wellness strategies can produce long-lasting results. And remember you’re a survivor!
Contact us for more information about improving your health and lifestyle after cancer treatment.
Reference: William G.Nelson.MD.PhD,December 21, 2018, Improving Health After Treatment