Ten Simple Ways to Live Happy & Healthy During and After Cancer 

by Team Onco

Cancer is a life-altering disease that affects not only the body but also the mind and spirit. When you have cancer, a huge part of your life is put on hold. You lose the ability to do many things you enjoyed doing in the past and are often restricted in what you can do. But even if cancer steals part of your life, there is still hope. With the right treatment and medicines, you can manage your disease while remaining happy and healthy. Although cancer treatment can be challenging, there are many things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. In this article, ten easy-to-follow tips are listed for happy and healthy living during and after cancer treatment.

Ten effective tips for happy and healthy living during and after cancer

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for everyone, but it holds even greater significance for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. Patients who are battling cancer often experience changes in their appetite, taste preferences, and digestive system as a result of the disease and treatment, which can hinder their ability to consume nutritious food. However, consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help improve their overall well-being and maintain strength. It is also advisable to limit the intake of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, and to remain well-hydrated during cancer treatments. It is always best to consult an oncology dietitian to get diet plans tailored to your needs.

A personalized diet plan can help individuals maintain their optimal weight, strength, and energy levels to withstand potent cancer treatments. It can also provide the necessary nutrients to support the proper functioning of the body, boost the immune system to fight infections, and aid in the management of side effects. Ultimately, adopting a healthy and balanced diet can help cancer patients feel better and support their overall health and well-being.

Discover how personalized nutrition/diet plans enhance treatment results by reading this blog.

2. Exercise Often

Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can provide a range of benefits for managing stress, boosting mood, increasing energy levels, and improving overall health during and after cancer treatment. Starting with low-impact exercises like walking or gentle yoga is recommended, gradually increasing intensity as strength builds. Prior to beginning any exercise regimen, it is important to consult with your doctor.

Regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, improve physical function including strength, endurance, and flexibility, minimize treatment side effects such as fatigue and depression, lower the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, which are common in cancer survivors, improve mental health and reduce stress and anxiety, enhance the overall quality of life, and promote restful sleep.

Please note that exercise programs for cancer patients should be tailored to each individual’s abilities and limitations. Patients should talk to their healthcare team to develop a safe and effective exercise program that takes into account their medical history, current physical condition, and treatment plan.

Find some easy exercises for cancer patients in this blog

3. Get Enough Rest

For individuals undergoing cancer treatment, rest is an essential part of the healing process. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, while taking daytime naps if necessary, can aid in recovery. Creating a relaxing sleep environment, such as a dark, quiet, and cool room, is also crucial. It is recommended to avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol in the evening or before bedtime, as this can disturb sleep patterns. Practising relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, as well as engaging in regular exercise can also help alleviate stress and promote relaxation before bedtime.

Getting enough rest promotes healing and recovery, boosts immune function, reduces stress and anxiety, improves mental health, increases energy levels, and reduces feelings of exhaustion. For cancer patients, getting enough rest is especially important due to the fatigue, sleep disturbances, and emotional stress that may result from treatment. If experiencing difficulty sleeping or managing fatigue, it is important to seek guidance and support from a healthcare team. They may offer additional strategies or interventions to help improve sleep quality and manage symptoms.

Read this blog to ‘Find Tips to Sleep Better During Cancer?

4. Find Freedom from Psychological Distress

Patients with cancer may experience psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, and stress, which can have negative effects on their health and well-being. Find ways to manage stress, such as practising meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or joining support groups. Avoiding anxiety-triggering situations such as watching the news or spending time with negative people can also help.

Talk to a healthcare professional about your psychological symptoms. They can refer you to a mental health professional who can provide counselling or other treatments. Therapy options such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be beneficial in managing psychological distress and improving coping skills. Engaging in regular exercise also helps improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. You can also consider medication to manage psychological symptoms. Talk to your healthcare team about medication options and their potential benefits and side effects.

Please remember that seeking support for psychological illness is a sign of strength, not weakness. Cancer treatment can be challenging, and it is normal to experience psychological distress. With the right support and treatment, cancer patients can improve their mental health and overall well-being.

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5. Stay Connected

Staying connected with loved ones is crucial for cancer patients as it can offer emotional support and help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s important to communicate your needs and ask for help when necessary. Joining a cancer support group can also be beneficial, as it can provide emotional support and a safe place to share your experiences with others who understand what you are going through and help reduce feelings of isolation.

Staying connected with your loved ones during treatment can also improve emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Having the right support system can help make the experience more manageable.

6. Join a Support Group

Cancer can frequently leave patients feeling isolated and lonely, but joining a support group can alleviate these emotions by connecting patients with others who are navigating through similar experiences. Support groups offer emotional support and practical advice, which can be immensely valuable. Participants can share their experiences and provide insights into coping strategies for managing cancer treatments and side effects.

By joining a support group, individuals may find valuable information and resources that can aid in their cancer journey. Support groups can also increase self-esteem and confidence by creating a safe and non-judgmental space for patients to express their feelings and share their experiences.

7. Practice self-care

Make sure to set aside time for activities that bring you joy, such as reading, listening to music, dancing, or taking a warm bath. Practising self-care can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Engaging in physical self-care activities, like getting enough rest, staying hydrated, eating a balanced and healthy diet, and participating in regular exercise (if possible), is crucial. Emotional self-care activities, such as talking to a counsellor or therapist, practising relaxation techniques, journaling, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in hobbies that bring positivity can help promote positive emotions. Engaging in spiritual self-care activities, like meditation, prayer, or mindfulness, can help promote spiritual well-being. Social self-care activities, like staying connected with loved ones and participating in social activities, can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Cognitive self-care activities that promote mental well-being, such as reading, puzzles, or learning new skills, can also be beneficial.

It’s important for cancer patients to tailor their self-care practices to their individual needs, preferences, and limitations, and to communicate with their healthcare team about their self-care activities. Taking a balanced approach to self-care can empower cancer patients, help manage stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being during and after treatment.

8. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice

Following your healthcare team’s recommendations, including taking prescribed medication and attending follow-up appointments, is crucial for cancer patients to receive optimal care. This approach can improve treatment outcomes, reduce the risk of complications and side effects associated with cancer treatment, and enhance the overall quality of life.

By tailoring a patient’s treatment plan based on their specific needs, medical history, and disease progression, healthcare professionals can ensure that the treatment is personalised and effective. Regular check-ups and monitoring of progress throughout treatment can detect any changes or complications early on, allowing for timely interventions and adjustments to the treatment plan.

Open communication with your healthcare team, asking questions, and expressing any concerns are essential to ensure that you receive the support and guidance necessary to manage your cancer diagnosis and treatment effectively. Patients can also take an active role in their treatment plan by staying informed and involved in their care.

9. Celebrate Your Successes

It’s essential for cancer patients to acknowledge and celebrate their successes, no matter how big or small. Celebrating achievements can help boost self-esteem, provide motivation to continue with treatment, and promote a positive attitude. By taking time to celebrate, cancer patients can reflect on their progress and appreciate their efforts, which can improve their overall well-being.

Celebrating successes can also be a form of self-care that helps cancer patients manage the emotional toll of their diagnosis and treatment. It’s important for patients to find ways to celebrate that feel meaningful and appropriate for them. This may include setting goals, acknowledging milestones, or finding small ways to celebrate victories.

By celebrating their successes, cancer patients can improve their emotional well-being, boost their morale, and maintain a positive outlook throughout their treatment journey. It’s crucial for patients to take time to appreciate their accomplishments and celebrate their progress towards better health.

10. Embrace Yourself

Dealing with cancer can be a life-changing experience, both physically and emotionally. Although it can be challenging, embracing the changes that come with the disease is an important step in the cancer journey. Accepting that change is a natural part of life and recognizing that it is okay to experience changes in appearance and a range of emotions can help patients cope better with their diagnosis and the changes it brings.

By embracing the changes, cancer patients can learn to adapt to their new circumstances, find a renewed sense of purpose, and lead fulfilling lives despite their diagnosis. It’s also essential to keep in mind that cancer can affect the body in various ways, and taking care of oneself is vital. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial to support the body through disease and treatment. By eating well and avoiding unhealthy habits, cancer patients can improve their physical health and emotional well-being, leading to a happier and healthier life, even after cancer.

Take Away:

cancer treatment can be overwhelming, but simple ways can make a big change. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, managing stress, joining a support group, practising self-care, following your doctor’s advice, staying connected with loved ones, and celebrating your successes can all help you live a healthy and fulfilling life during and after cancer. 

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