What lifestyle changes can I make to support my cancer treatment and recovery?

Adopting positive lifestyle changes can play a supportive role during cancer treatment and recovery. It is important to discuss any significant lifestyle modifications with your healthcare team to ensure they align with your specific treatment plan.

Here are some general lifestyle changes that may support cancer treatment and recovery:

  • Maintain a balanced diet: Explore and enjoy cooking with nutritious ingredients to support overall well-being. Consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated, especially if experiencing side effects like nausea or diarrhea.
  • Physical activity: Engage in regular, moderate exercise as tolerated and recommended by your healthcare team. Activities such as walking, swimming, or gentle yoga can be beneficial. Exercise may help reduce fatigue, improve mood, and support overall well-being. Incorporate balance exercises and take precautions to prevent falls, especially if experiencing treatment-related weakness or changes in mobility. Read more about exercise after cancer treatment herewoman lifting weights
  • Adequate rest and sleep: Ensure you get enough sleep and rest to support your body's healing processes. Establish a consistent sleep routine and create a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Stress management: Consider engaging in activities you find relaxing and enjoyable which will be different for everyone. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, or yoga.  Engage in activities that stimulate the mind, such as reading, puzzles, or hobbies, to support cognitive health.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake: If applicable, quit smoking or seek support to quit. Limit alcohol consumption, as excessive alcohol can have negative effects on health.
  • Adjust work and lifestyle: Consider making adjustments to your work schedule or daily activities to manage energy levels and reduce stress.
  • Stay connected: Maintain social connections with friends and family for emotional support. Consider joining support groups or seeking counselling if you find it beneficial.
  • Attend follow-up as scheduled: Adhere to your prescribed treatment plan and attend all medical appointments. Communicate openly with your healthcare team about any concerns or side effects.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Aim for a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity. If experiencing unintentional weight loss, work with your healthcare team to address nutritional needs.
  • Hygiene and infection prevention: Practice good hygiene to prevent infections, especially if your immune system is compromised due to treatment. Wash hands frequently and avoid close contact with sick individuals.
  • Mind-body practices: Consider incorporating mind-body practices such as meditation, visualisation, or relaxation techniques to promote mental well-being. There are free apps available to get started.
  • Complementary therapies: Explore complementary therapies like acupuncture, massage, or aromatherapy, under the guidance of your healthcare team. Read more about the role of complementary therapies during cancer treatment here
  • Lymphedema management: If relevant, follow guidelines for lymphedema management, which may include avoiding tight clothing, protecting the skin, and engaging in specific exercises.
  • Bone health: Pay attention to bone health, especially if undergoing treatments that may impact bone density. Having both ovaries removed before the age of 45 is associated with low-bone mineral density and arthritis later in life.
  • Maintain vaccinations: Stay up-to-date on vaccinations as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Goal setting: Set realistic short-term and long-term goals to maintain a sense of purpose and motivation.
  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about your specific type of cancer, treatment options, and potential side effects. Advocate for yourself and actively participate in decisions about your care.
  • Monitor for recurrence: Stay vigilant about signs and symptoms of cancer recurrence.

Everyone's situation is unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. Always consult with your healthcare team before making significant lifestyle changes, and work together to develop a plan that aligns with your individual needs and treatment goals.

If you wish to receive regular information, resources, reassurance and inspiration for up-to-date care that is safe and sound and in line with the latest research, please subscribe to my blog via the form above, or like Dr Andreas Obermair on Facebook.

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