From the moment you received a diagnosis of cancer, you’ve hoped this day would come. After so much uncertainty and all the challenges of treatments, you finally got to hear the words, “you’re cancer-free.” Congratulations, but, now what?
Life as a cancer survivor can bring its own set of challenges. Some survivors have described this new phase of life as if they’re viewing everything through a post-cancer filter. That shift in perspective is totally natural. You’ve been through a lot, and it may take time to adjust to your new post-cancer life. Here are six tips for living a healthy and fulfilling life after cancer.
Your doctors have probably advised you to incorporate regular exercise into your life to regain strength and promote overall health. Studies have shown that adopting an exercise routine can reduce fatigue, a common side effect of many cancer therapies. But your body has also been through a difficult time, so it’s important to go gently as you aim to make exercise a habit.
Going out for long walks is a great way to build up strength, endurance, and a feeling of fitness. Try gradually increasing the distance you travel on each outing and the length of time you walk. Many people find that listening to inspiring audiobooks or upbeat music while walking can spark motivation to keep going up that next hill.
Yoga is another great way to re-energize your body and build strength in a way that’s gentle and easy to do at home. There are many styles of yoga, so find one that you enjoy. Building up your level of physical fitness will improve your energy levels while also helping you maintain a healthy weight, which is significant in preventing disease.
Focus on nutrition
Healthy eating can be a powerful tool in preventing cancer from recurring. While there isn’t anyone specific “magic” food, a diet filled with vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy will support your body’s nutritional needs. Vegetables and fruits, in particular, are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that can help prevent cell damage.
Many studies found that people who consume more antioxidant-rich foods may reduce their risk of cancer and other diseases.
Set new goals
When you were in a cancer hospital, you may have been fearful about the future and worried about the things in life you might miss. Now that you’re in remission, it’s a great time to set goals for what you want to ascertain you get to experience. Maybe you want to travel or learn a new skill. Perhaps you wish to spend more time with grandchildren or reconnect with a friend from your past. Maybe there’s a story you’ve always wanted to write.
Your recovery from cancer gives you a brand-new opportunity to set goals that are important to you and make a plan for achieving them.
Calm your mind
After the stress, anxiety, and intense emotions associated with going through cancer treatments, it’s important that you don’t overlook your mental health. One way to regain a feeling of peace and calmness is by learning to practice meditation. Studies show that regular, focused meditation can promote a feeling of well-being, facilitate better sleep, and improve mood. It can also relieve feelings of anxiety, depression, and pain.
There are many ways to meditate. A good basic way to get started is to find a quiet place without distractions and sit in a cozy position with your eyes closed. Focus only on your breathing for a few minutes, noticing the sensation of breathing and simply being alive.
Observe your thoughts that come into your mind, and allow them to come and go, but keep redirecting your focus to your breathing. Over time, you may find that including a few minutes of meditation in your daily life can be a significant part of your recovery.
Share your feelings
Many cancer survivors have ongoing fears that can be difficult to deal with alone. Expressing these fears, either to a counsellor or a trusted friend, can help make them feel more manageable. Consider getting into the habit of writing in a journal, as this can also be a cathartic means of getting out your worries and helping to put them in perspective.
You may want to seek out & join a support group for cancer survivors, as there can be a feeling of strength in talking to others who understand what you’ve been through.
Stay vigilant about your appointments.
It’s understandable if you have no interest in ever setting foot in a doctor’s office again. But, it’s extremely important that you stay on top of your follow-up appointments. Monitoring your health and progress after cancer treatments is a critical part of your recovery, so make those appointments and be sure that you keep them. Each one brings you one step further into your new, cancer-free life.