If you have cancer, your world may have been turned upside down by the diagnosis. However, there are ways to reclaim those parts of you that you feel were lost. Chemotherapy and radiation can often get rid of the cancer cells, but these types of clinical treatments can take a toll on the body. Compounded with the emotional impact of your diagnosis, the physical side effects of recovery can be overwhelming.
Here are some things you should know to help keep yourself healthy as you ease into your new life as a person with or recovering from cancer.
Exercise, Stress, and Cancer Are All Related
Everything you do, from the food you eat to the exercise you get, affects how you feel. Most oncologists and other healthcare practitioners will recommend that you engage in physical activity. Hartford Hospital, for example, advocates yoga as part of an overall recovery plan. Exercise helps build muscles and keeps your systems operating as close to normal as possible.
If you are too fatigued to engage in strenuous exercise, even stretching can have a positive effect. A few simple stretch exercises include those that stretch your back, shoulders, and legs. Like more strenuous movements, stretching helps promote circulation and lessens pain and stiffness. Perhaps most importantly, stretching can help you lower stress levels. Dr. Robert Zembroski, a neurologist and cancer survivor, explains the relationship between stress and cancer by citing how the stress hormones released by the body can feed the disease.
Supplements Can Help Ease Symptoms
Cancer is a group of cells that essentially mutated and made you sick. No matter where the cells are located, the effects of cancer can sweep through your entire body and cause pain, discomfort, and internal turmoil. The good news is that many health supplements can offset the symptoms that cause the most distress. Melatonin, for example, can help with insomnia, which is a common complaint among cancer survivors. While melatonin won’t put you to sleep, it can help your mind and body settle down so that sleep becomes a reality. This is exponentially important during treatment as your body needs ample rest each night to aid the healing process.
There is a good chance that you will experience anxiety, pain, and nausea related to cancer or therapy. CBD products, which contain cannabinoids, may be able to lessen the effects of these symptoms so that your body can function. While cannabinoids are closely related to the compound in marijuana, they are non-intoxicating so you won’t experience any cognitive impairment if you take them. However, always look for the best products before investing in one.
Antioxidants and Cancer: Used or Avoided During Therapy?
In addition to the above-mentioned supplements, many healthcare practitioners advocate taking an antioxidant supplement or increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants are important because they neutralize free radicals, which are chemicals that, when present in high concentrations, can damage you at a cellular level. The National Cancer Institute details the relationship between antioxidants, free radicals, and cancer here. While the science behind it remains a bit murky, taking antioxidants under your doctor’s guidance may make you feel stronger and give your body more of what it needs to prevent future damage. It should also be noted that some studies have found that antioxidant therapy can increase the risk of certain types of cancer by protecting cancer cells. Because of this, it’s wise to consult with your healthcare team before taking matters into your own hands.
Cancer is a disease that has touched nearly every person alive. But until we find a way to prevent cancer, those of us with the disease must learn to cope with the diagnosis and symptoms. Exercising, lessening stress, and adding additional nutrients to our diet can help.