After the initial recovery when you are eager to return back to normal life a fear is still occupied your heart, what if it comes back? Some issues related to sexuality as well as fertility or menopause and late effects of treatments might again bother you. So how to improve long-term health so that you can enjoy years ahead as cancer survivors?
In the USA there are more than 3 million breast cancer survivor women. However, unfortunately, in Pakistan, the percentage is quite low. Claiming more than 40,000 lives each year, being reluctant after healed completely costs them their lives. One major issue is the improper lifestyle of women after treatment.
What are the top healthy measures that one should adopt in order to stay healthy and safe from this invasive disease even after treatment?
Eat well stay well: Eat to nourish your body. There is no understanding in how diet affects the survival of breast cancer. However, breast cancer survivors can benefit from the same diet as recommended for everyone.
- Make sure diet contains at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits every day
- Protein low in saturated fat such as eggs, fish, nuts seeds and legumes
- Opt for healthy Fats and Carbohydrate. Eat “good fats” (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). Olive, nuts, canola oil is a source of such fats.
- Avoid “bad fats” (saturated and Trans fats). Red meat, full-fat dairy, fried foods, margarine, poultry skin and microwave popcorns are a source of such fats.
Sleep well: Sleeping problems are common in cancer patients as well as survivors. Even after the treatment, you are most probably to have a tough time sleeping. This can be due to a side effect of therapy, stress or physical changes in the body. However, sleeping is an integral part of recovery from your disease. A good sleep gives your body time to refresh to help you function at your best while you’re awake, lowering blood pressure and improving hormonal function it makes you feel better generally.
- Stick to regular sleep schedule
- Avoid caffeine before 8 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid television and computer before 1-2 hours of bedtime.
- Keep your room dim and quiet.
- Exercise to stay fit: “Fitness is the first step to greatness.” Exercising right after your treatment increases the chances of your survival very much as compared to other activities.
It gives you the following benefits
- Lower risk of cancer recurring
- Improves your sleep
- Lessens the pains
- Reduce the fatigue
- Less anxiety and fewer signs of depression
- Increase the strength and improves mood
Maintaining a healthy weight: After the treatment, you are more likely to either become over or underweight. It is much essential to keep the body weight at a healthy level. Studies show that being obese or overweight after breast cancer increases the chances of mortality. Being obese also increases chances of diabetes and heart diseases. Similarly being underweight makes you physically weak therefore consult from your doctor for achieving that weight goal, safely.
Limit or quit alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol for a normal one’s is unhealthy, so is it a severe dilemma for cancer survivors. Studies show that people consuming alcohol after recovery are more likely to have more chances of cancer recurrence. Limit yourself to 1 day a drink for women and 2 drinks a day for men or the best case is to quit its intake.
Say no to smoking: Smoking decreases survival of women with breast cancer. Kick this bad habit once for all as stopping now will reduce the chances of cancer recurrence and secondary type of cancer. Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco as it puts you at risk of several cancer types. Consult with your doctor if you are having trouble leaving this bad habit.
Medical Care is necessary: Survivors should see their medical health care providers on a regular basis. It involves discussing the ways of lowering recurrence, side effects from medication and treatment, checking if any breast cancer has returned, unfortunately.
Therapies might help you: Using complementary and integrative therapies during and after breast cancer relieve your stress, help you overcoming anxiety and depression, improving your lifestyle socially by increasing quality of life around you.
Overcome your Fears Stress and concerns: After the treatment of breast cancer you may be afraid breast cancer coming back, or have sources of stress or worrying that the breast cancer might happen to others in your family. In order to overcome such mental difficulties, cope with anxiety and fear of recurrence, returning to your work keeping yourself occupied will help you in this regard.
Create an impact on yourself and others: No matter how long ago you completed the treatment, there are likely to be other people who are going through the same phase as you were. Every survivor has these concerns and fears similarly to you. Share your experience and advice the others survivors as it is helpful. Create an impact on lives of others. Stay active in breast cancer community to be useful and personally rewarded.