After cancer treatment, many survivors want to find ways to reduce the chances of their cancer coming back. Some worry that the way they eat, the stress in their lives, or their exposure to chemicals may put them at risk. Cancer survivors find that this is a time when they take a good look at how they take care of themselves. This is an important start to living a healthy life.
When you meet with your doctor about follow up care, you could ask about developing a wellness plan that includes ways you can take care of your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. The following are changes you may want to think about making.
- QUIT SMOKING: Research shows that smoking can increase the chances of getting cancer at the same site or another site.
- CUT DOWN ON ALCOHOL: Research shows that drinking alcohol increases your chances of getting certain types of cancers.
- EAT WELL: Healthy food choices and physical activity may help reduce the risk of cancer or recurrence. Talk with your doctor or a nutrionist to find out about any special dietary needs that you may have.
The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research have developed similar diet and fitness guidelines that may help reduce the risk of cancer:
- Eat a plant based diet and have at least 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Try to include beans in your diet, eath whole grains such as cereals, breads and pasta several times daily.
- Choose foods that are low in fat and low in salts.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
Exercise and Stay Active: Several recent reports suggest that staying active after cancer treatment can help lower the risk of recurrence and can lead to longer survival. Moderate excercise (walking, biking, swimming) for about 30 minutes every or almost everyday - can reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood and boost self esteem.
Regular exercise also reduces fatigue, nausea, pain and diarrhea. It is important to start and exercise program slowly and increase activity over time, working with your doctor or a physical therapist if needed. If you need to stay in bed during your recovery, even small activities like stretching or moving your arms and legs can help you stay flexible, relieve muscle tension and help you feel better.
Talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine or changing your diet.