Treatment & Services
Decide To Be a Healthy Survivor: Make the decision today to live a healthy lifestyle.
Eat well. Good nutrition alone may decrease the risk of your cancer returning. Eat at least 5 serving of fruits and vegetables a day. Choose whole grains, looking for the term “100% whole grain” on packages of bread, pasta, and cereal. Aim for a lower-fat diet. Limit saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products; and trans fats, found in many fast foods and baked goods. Eat less red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) and processed foods (hotdogs, bacon, and cold cuts). Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink/day for women and 2 for men. Consider talking with a dietitian, especially if you need to gain weight or lose weight at the end of treatment. Some survivors have a tendency to gain weight and this can lead to a worse outcome in certain cancers. Strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight in survivorship.
Get moving! Exercise helps so many issues in survivorship. Regular physical activity has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue. It can improve sleep, mood, mobility, strength, flexibility, and range of motion. It’s even been shown to decrease recurrence and increase survival in some cancers. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Activities such as gardening, walking briskly, climbing stairs, and swimming are all considered moderate exercise. Make sure you get clearance from your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Avoid risky behaviors. If you smoke, try to stop. There are smoking cessation classes available in the community. There are also online programs to help you quit. Avoid unprotected sex and exposure to viruses. Avoid excessive sun exposure. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it at least 20 minutes before getting in the sun and reapply every two hours or after getting wet.
Learn the long-term and late effects of your treatment and know how to monitor yourself for early signs. Keep your follow-up appointments with your oncologist and your primary care doctor. Learn how to communicate with your health care team, and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your follow-up plan.
Part of becoming an informed survivor is learning what you need and where to get it. Your cancer doctor (oncologist) and your primary care doctor are your best resources for questions about your physical health. Learn how to talk with your doctors. Consider writing down your questions before each visit and record your doctors’ answers. Between visits, make notes about any new signs or symptoms you notice. Ask your doctors who will be responsible for your follow up care and how your oncologist plans to monitor you for cancer recurrence or a second cancer.
There are many social issues in survivorship, including financial concerns, disability, health insurance, and employment issues. Talking with a social worker can help connect you with the resources to manage problems in this area. Other survivors can also be a great resource.
Online support groups are available at:
Many survivors face psychological challenges, such as depression, anxiety, and fear of recurrence. If you struggle with these or related problems, consider speaking with a social worker, counselor, or therapist to help you work through these issues. While you’re undergoing cancer treatment, physical needs take center stage, and your spiritual needs can be pushed aside. Reconnecting spiritually can bring a sense of balance and inner peace.