5 steps to live a healthier life after cancer treatment

June 08, 2016 | by Maribeth Maney, A.P.N.

Once your cancer treatment ends, a new road of survivorship lies ahead. Many survivors are ready to put their cancer experience behind them, but they often worry about cancer returning in the future.

Both fear and anxiety are normal parts of cancer survivorship, but there are steps you can take to help you stay healthy. Take care of your body and your emotions by following your survivorship plan and the steps below.

  1. Stay active and exercise regularly. Exercise can help protect your health in the long term. Being physically active will help reduce anxiety, increase energy, improve self-esteem and boost muscle strength and endurance. Choose an activity that you enjoy, like walking with friends, joining a recreational sports team or taking part in a local Yoga or Zumba class. The American Cancer Society recommends adults exercise moderately for at least 150 minutes each week, or 20 minutes a day. It’s time to get moving!
  2. Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. Vary your diet to include fruits and vegetables and avoid unprocessed foods. No single food by itself can protect you against cancer, but evidence shows a diet filled with a variety of plant-based foods, such as deeply colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, can help reduce cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber and low in fat and can help control your weight. Eating these cancer superfoods can help fuel your body with the right nutrients.
  3. Limit your alcohol intake and don’t smoke.  If you are a smoker, make it a priority to quit. Not only does smoking cause cancer, but it can lead to getting cancer again. Every cigarette you smoke damages your lungs and cells in your body.  Alcohol also raises the risk of developing mouth, throat, voice box and esophagus cancer. Research suggests people who use both alcohol and tobacco together have a much greater risk of developing these cancers.
  4. Stay in touch with your doctors and have regular checkups. Early prevention is key. Regular physicals and screenings can find diseases like cancer before it has a chance to spread. Follow-up cancer care can also help identify changes in your health. Let your doctor know if you have any symptoms, pain, problems that interfere with your daily life, or changes in your family history
  5. Find a support group. Stay connected with other cancer survivors by joining a support group. Cancer support groups help many people cope with the emotional and educational aspects of cancer. Peer to peer social networks and online support groups also enable cancer survivors to connect virtually and share their experiences. Many hospitals and organizations offer community and disease-specific support groups. Ask your health care team for recommendations.

How are your living a healthy life after cancer treatment? Tell us in the below comments.

Learn more about cancer screenings at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Learn more about cancer support services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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