Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease. An estimated 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 7.6 million die from the disease. Fortunately, many cases are treatable with procedures including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. We lay out 4 tips to practice self-care when diagnosed with cancer. Self-care is a major factor in successful healing.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, it’s important that you prioritize health and wellness over everything else. Besides following a doctor’s advice and proceeding with the appropriate treatment or treatments, a person facing a cancer diagnosis must take time for self-care. Self-care is a buzzy term we often associate with things like essential oils and face masks. In reality, self-care refers to the things we do to prioritize our physical and mental well being in the face of the stresses life throws our way. When dealing with a cancer diagnosis, self-care can make the difference between life and death.
4 Tips to Practice Self-Care When Diagnosed with Cancer
Eat Nourishing Foods
If your body is a car, food is the fuel. To run efficiently, you want to be sure and use the best fuel you can get your hands on. A proper diet can facilitate healing and a positive mindset can help you get through this difficult time.
- Eat plenty of foods rich in iron, zinc, and vitamin C.
- Add lean protein to every meal.
- Avoid foods that cause inflammation including things that are high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat.
- Sweeten things with honey. Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help in preventing infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and healing herbal teas.
Get Some Gentle Exercise
Cancer and its treatments often leave patients feeling fatigued. This is definitely not the time to train for a marathon. However, gentle exercise can help promote energy and feel-good neurochemicals like endorphins. Regular exercise will help promote a positive mood, which is healing in of itself. Try walking, yoga, or gently swimming laps to reap the various benefits of exercise while in recovery.
Protect Yourself from Addiction
While recovering from surgery or other cancer treatments, your doctor may prescribe prescription opiates to help deal with the pain. Taking painkillers/opioids for a short amount of time is considered safe. However, many people have fallen into addiction through the gateway of prescribed medicine. Talk to your doctor about how to safely administer these drugs so you can reduce your risk of addiction. As for all the information regarding the drug you’ll be taking, the dosage, possible side effects, and how long you’ll be taking it. In addition to your doctor, talk with friends or family about these painkillers and ask for help monitoring your behavior for signs of addiction. With a healthy attitude and regulation, you should be able to get through your rehabilitation safely.
Listen to Your Body
In our hectic day-to-day lives, we often ignore the things our bodies try to tell us. We skip meals to get more work done even though our body is hungry. Our sleep is compromised to spend more time with the people in our lives even though our body is tired. We push through the stress even though the body is in pain from too much of it. When you are in cancer recovery, you can’t ignore the things your body tells you. If you are thirsty, it means you need water. If you are tired, you need to rest. Learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Millions of people beat cancer every year. If you or someone you know is working to overcome a diagnosis, it’s important to practice self-care. Self-care may seem simple, but it’s an important step for recovery and can help a person live to see another day.
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