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Healthy habits to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment
Oct 18, 2016

Healthy habits to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment

No one wants to face the prospect of a cancer diagnosis, especially when recovery means a long treatment regimen that may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. All of these treatments, while they can be life-saving, come with side effects that are less than desirable. The good news is that developing and maintaining some healthy habits can help you reduce the impact of these effects on your body and mind, and most importantly, help you maintain the positive attitude that’s so essential for long-term recovery.

Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating is a good habit for everyone to adopt, but for people undergoing cancer treatment, it’s even more crucial for overall health and well-being. In fact, some cancer treatments actually work better when patients are consuming enough calories and are well-nourished. Additionally, some types of tumors can rob the body of essential nutrients or prevent the body from absorbing nutrients efficiently, so replenishing those nutrients is essential. At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, patients have access to nutrition counseling services with registered dietitian Shelly Kokkeler. Having specialized in oncology for more than 30 years, Shelly supports patients through the various stages of their cancer journey.

Maintain a Regular Exercise Routine
Because chemotherapy can sap your body of energy, leaving you feeling fatigued and unmotivated, maintaining a regular exercise routine is all the more important. While it may seem counter-intuitive, regular physical activity can actually help you feel more energized and help to offset post-treatment fatigue. Low-impact physical activity, such as walking, cycling or swimming is ideal, as these forms of exercise are easier on the joints and don’t have the same risk of injury compared to high-impact exercises.

Get a Service Dog
Service dogs offer emotional support and provide motivation for pushing through treatment. Four-legged companions have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can creep up on even the most mentally strong individuals in the throes of treatment. Plus, a service dog gives you a reason to take a walk every day, helping you to maintain your physical fitness.

Practice Daily Meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years. Today, meditation is a daily routine for many people. For those undergoing cancer treatment, meditation can be a powerful tool to help you maintain a positive outlook and an upbeat attitude by aiding you in erasing negative thoughts from your mind and creating a mental image of the health you’re striving toward. Through meditation, you may become more aware of your surroundings and gain more control over your mind while releasing stress and anxiety, which can have a tremendous impact on your health and well-being.

Learn to Lean on Others
If you’re typically an independent person who likes to handle things on your own, leaning on others for help with daily tasks can be uncomfortable at first. However, the people in your life who love you are yearning for a way to feel like they’re helping, so accepting the help of others for things like maintaining the lawn, grocery shopping, paying bills and other tedious demands can be as helpful for them as it is for you. In the process, you’re alleviating some of the demands that may be too much for you to handle on your own, while at the same time giving the people you care about a way to truly help and feel like they’re making a difference.

Cancer treatment can be a frightening prospect, particularly when you read through the list of potential side effects that come with the treatment you need to achieve remission. But by maintaining a few healthy habits, you can overcome many of the negative side effects of treatment and give your body and mind a much-needed boost.