As of January 2014, more than 108,000 Nevadans fought the good fight, stayed strong, and kicked cancer’s butt. To say that’s a huge accomplishment is a gross understatement.
But now what?
Many cancer survivors struggle to get back to life before cancer, or seek a new normal. As National Cancer Survivors Day approaches (June 5), Dr. Perez has some tips for cancer survivors to help live healthier, feel better and enjoy life.
#1 Eat Well To Live Well
They say: You are what you eat, your body is a temple, and a healthy outside starts from the inside. And they’re right. A healthy, low-fat, nutrient-rich diet is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Maintaining your weight and addressing any digestive issues post-cancer will help you feel better, as well as build strength and energy. Dr. Perez and the American Cancer Society recommend:
- High fiber foods
- 2.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily
- Include citrus fruits, dark green and yellow vegetables
- Decrease fats
- Limit red meat to 3-4 servings per week (and avoid the grill and charring)
- Choose low-fat dairy products
- Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women, 2 for men
#2 Get Outdoors, Get Active
Exercise has been proven is its ability to lessen pain and fatigue, enhance mood and increase self-esteem. That’s why Dr. Perez and the American Cancer Society recommend:
- Exercise regularly (aim for at least 150 minutes each week)
- Start exercising slowly if you haven’t been active recently, and build up your fitness over time
- Avoid inactivity whenever possible; return to normal activities as soon as possible
- Incorporate strength training into your routine
Looking for a fun, easy way to incorporate activity and the great outdoors? People in Carson City, Reno, Lake Tahoe and all of northern Nevada are lucky to have amazing natural resources practically at your doorstep. Hike, bike, walk, paddle—you name it, it’s out there waiting for you.
#3 Fight Fatigue
Fatigue after cancer treatment is one of the most common complaints of survivors, and it’s different for everyone. There are some things you can do to combat it. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Perez recommend:
- Stay hydrated
- Eat well (see #1)
- Embrace short naps or breaks when needed
- Be consistent with the times you go to bed and wake up
- Accept help from friends and family
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine (see #2)
- Prioritize your to-do list and learn to say no to things that low on the list, i.e. chores, volunteering
#4 Boost Your Chemo Brain
From being more fatigued and disorganized than usual to short-term memory issues and a short attention span, chemo brain affects some cancer patients and survivors in a very real way. Though it’s still the topic of many studies, there are some ways to address it. Dr. Perez and the Mayo Clinic recommend:
- Memory and thinking exercises
- Keeping track of possible triggers (i.e. hunger, fatigue, stress)
- Stress relief techniques
- Coping strategies like positive thinking, humor, time management and support
- Medications and alternative medicine
Celebrating a Cancerversary® is a wonderful thing. But in addition to the yearly milestone, there are small yet significant ways to celebrate life. Did you complete your first four-mile walk since your treatment? Celebrate with a smoothie. Do you get to attend a long-awaited wedding? Buy an extra special dress or tie. Feeling thankful for those who helped you during your treatment? Throw a party—and don’t forget the cake.
No matter how you choose to celebrate—privately or publically, small steps or big milestones (or both!), the important thing is to celebrate being a cancer survivor.
Happy National Cancer Survivors Day
Dr. Perez and the entire staff at Sierra Nevada Cancer Center are committed to doing everything in our power, using the latest technologies, science breakthroughs and individualized care, to give all our patients the opportunity to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day—and the other 364 days of the year. To you and the cancer survivors you know, happy National Cancer Survivors Day.