Debra Wood, RN
Lifestyle changes can be helpful in a variety of important ways:
Smoking is a known risk factor for many cancers. Although you may have already been diagnosed with cancer, it’s not too late to stop smoking. When you quit smoking, you reduce your risk of its associated medical complications. This should improve your chances of withstanding the physical stresses of cancer and treatment. The immune system of smokers is generally less effective than nonsmokers. By quitting, you may be adding your immune system’s ability to join in the battle against cancer.
Ask your doctor about programs to help you stop smoking, such as group support, hypnosis, and alternative nicotine delivery systems.
For more information on quitting smoking,
To decrease your risk of infection, avoid exposure to bacteria and viruses:
For more information on washing your hands properly,
Eating a healthful diet may help you avoid other medical conditions linked to poor nutrition. Because cancer and cancer treatment may have a dulling effect on your appetite, it’s important that you make the most of the calories you take in. Consider consulting a registered dietitian (RD) to help you learn more about the best kinds of foods for you to eat, and how to eat other, less healthful foods in moderation.
For more information on eating a healthful diet,
If you have not been exercising regularly, check with your doctor to determine a safe exercise program under your current circumstances. Exercise has many benefits that may help you withstand the physical and emotional stresses of cancer and cancer treatment, such as:
You may consider consulting a personal trainer to help you set exercise goals and to safely follow through on initiating an exercise program. While incorporating exercise, be sure to balance rest and activities to prevent becoming too tired.
For more information on starting a regular exercise program,
The treatments for cancer can add to the fatigue you already feel from fighting cancer. In fact, fatigue is the most frequently experienced symptom of cancer and cancer treatments. The fatigue you feel can range from just feeling tired to complete and utter exhaustion. Wherever in this range you fall, you may find your fatigue quite distressing and affecting your quality of life.
It is important to allow your body time to rest. This will help your body have the strength to heal itself. To help you avoid getting overtired, try not to do too much. Prioritize the things you need to do, and focus on the most important ones. Also, allow others to help you with daily chores, shopping, and preparing meals. Plan times throughout the day when you can rest.
For information on getting a good night's sleep,
The diagnosis of cancer is difficult to manage. Facing the uncertainty of a serious disease, feeling anxious about how you will feel during treatment, and worrying about the impact of the diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming. Give yourself permission to call on any helpful resources, including the following:
People who allow themselves to seek help while they are recovering from cancer can often maintain better emotional balance. This will help them face the challenges of cancer and its treatment.
For more information on increasing your social support,
It’s important that you don’t make major lifestyle changes without consulting your doctor, and verifying that you are proceeding safely. You are already being physically and emotionally challenged by the presence of cancer and the rigors of treatment. You and your doctor need to work together to make wise lifestyle choices and implement them in the healthiest way possible. Your doctor can provide referrals to an RD, personal trainer, therapist, and support group.
About kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at:
http://www.kidneycancer.org/knowledge/learn/about-kidney-cancer/. Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.
Kidney cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidneycancer/index. Accessed June 20, 2013.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/kidney. Accessed June 20, 2013.
Renal cell carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated June 4, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD;
Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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