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 many associated medical complications. This should improve your chances of withstanding the physical stresses of cancer and treatment. The immune system of smokers is also generally less effective than nonsmokers. By quitting you may be adding to your immune system’s ability to join in the battle against cancer.
Ask your doctor about programs to help you stop smoking. They may include group support, hypnosis, and alternative nicotine delivery systems.
Eating a healthful diet
may help you avoid other medical conditions linked to poor nutrition. Because cancer itself and some cancer treatment may have a dulling effect on your appetite, it’s important that you make the most of the calories you do take in. Strongly 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. (Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian.) Avoid making drastic changes in your diet based on the latest fad 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:
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.
The diagnosis of cancer is life-defining event that is difficult to handle for anyone. Facing the uncertainty of a serious disease, feeling anxious about how you will feel during treatment, and worrying about the impact of both the diagnosis and treatment on your plans and your family and friends can take a devastating toll that no one should have to tackle on their own. Give yourself permission to call on any helpful resources, including the following:
People who allow themselves to
while they are recovering from cancer can often maintain better emotional equilibrium, which will help them face the challenges of cancer and its treatment.
To decrease your risk of infection, avoid exposure to bacteria and viruses:
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 registered dietitian, personal trainer, therapist, and support group.
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Cecil Textbook of Medicine.
Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 633-634.
Conn’s Current Therapy.
54th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 720-721.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Mohei Abouzied, 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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