The most recent data from the National Cancer Institute reveals that 40% of men and women will receive a cancer diagnosis within their lifetimes. This fact is a terrifying thought as battling cancer is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through. More than most diseases, cancer can affect a person’s well-being and lifestyle.
However, this doesn’t mean that things can’t get better. With a few tweaks and additions to your regular routine, you can enhance your daily life.
- Observe a healthy diet and exercise routine
Eating “clean” and exercising regularly may not seem appealing for some cancer patients. However, doing so — even in moderation — can significantly improve your overall wellness and response to treatment. In terms of diet, WebMD suggests a diet rich in protein, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains. This keeps you strong, especially on treatment days, and helps your body repair. This will also keep your nutrient levels more balanced, reducing instances of nausea, constipation, or mouth and throat problems. As for exercise, opt for low-impact resistance or aerobic exercise. This includes brisk walking, swimming, or yoga. Exercising at least 20 minutes, three times a week greatly improves everyday mobility and the body’s ability to withstand treatments.For the best results, talk to a registered nutritionist and physical therapist — many of whom have completed training specific to oncology. They will be able to tailor a series of diet and exercise-based plans that take your personal situation into account. These experts can usually be recommended by your treatment center and may be covered by your healthcare provider. In some Medicare Advantage plans, for example, you can take advantage of the SilverSneakers fitness program as well as nutritional therapy, so long as a doctor refers you.
- Include a mental health professional in your care team
Considering that one-third of all cancer patients have a mental health condition, and depression is three times higher in those with cancer, paying attention to the psychosocial side of the disease is essential. As such, when putting together your healthcare team, do include a mental healthcare expert. In some oncology centers, there will be several mental health professionals available depending on the patient’s preference and the primary doctor’s recommendations. These can include psychologists, counselors, or psychiatrists.For many patients afraid of incurring additional medical bills, do take note that depending on your healthcare provider, the fees for these mental health services can also be covered. For instance, if you have Original Medicare Part B, you are eligible for outpatient mental health services. Alternatively, some Medicare Advantage plans also have inclusions similar to Part B. According to Medicare Houston, those with Medicare Advantage plans can benefit from both in-patient and outpatient mental health services. At no extra cost, these plans can connect you with a specialist who can teach you (and your carer, if you’d like) coping methods and calming techniques that can drastically improve your daily life.
- Communicate with your loved ones
For many cancer patients, there is a sense of fear and guilt involved when telling loved ones about their diagnosis. A study on The Conversation shows that the majority of cancer patients underplay their diagnosis with family and friends. And contrary to popular belief, conversations about cancer aren't usually as emotional as many think they are. However, rather than hiding the truth when it comes to your diagnosis, honesty is mutually beneficial.According to reports, by involving loved ones in the process it can help gain better results, patient satisfaction with health-related decisions andimprove a patients likelihood to adhere to treatments. With social support, the overall quality of life can be improved as you receive emotional and logistical assistance, too. At the same time, relatives and friends who are involved in cancer care are less likely to feel “helpless” in their loved one’s diagnosis. Depending on your comfort level, this could mean involving loved ones in your medical appointments or even just to help run errands.Although there is yet to be a cure for cancer, there are many ways to help shift the odds in your favor. By improving your day-to-day circumstances, you’re strengthening your mental, physical, and emotional fortitude in battling the Big C.
For more on cancer awareness and treatment resources, please check the rest of the site at Breast Cancer Assistance Fund.
Article contributed by Renee Joyce
Exclusively for breastcanceraf.org