Changes after cancer? Recently after my wonderful news of an “all clear” 5 year CT lung cancer scan I was asked what, if anything, did I do differently in those 5 to 10 years after two primary cancers. What a question! So I have devoted some time to thinking about this and what was important in these years. There was much soul-searching for rights and wrongs and there was not always a clear answer to many things. Here are some of the major changes I recall which I believe have enhanced my current lifestyle and yes, helped me then and now!
8 Changes After Breast & Lung Cancers
LIFESTYLE – I believe it is extremely important that before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 I was a healthy, active person which helped me through both the surgery and treatments for almost a year. I continue to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle today.
WEIGHT – One year after lung cancer surgery in 2012 I decided to lose weight at my doctor’s recommendation. I followed a vegetarian type diet and lost 30 lbs in 6 months – weight loss maintained. Two happy events occurred at the time of my 3 year lung scan.
My regular annual medical update.
(1) my cholesterol levels improved and no prescription statins were required
(2) I was also no longer pre-diabetic. Talk about a win-win situation
DIET – By 2011 we had made a few changes especially cooking meals from scratch, no processed food, etc. Here are some of the changes made after breast cancer surgery.
Today I include seafood and poultry white meat. For about 18 months after lung surgery I had a daily fresh organic carrot juice, with an apple, parsley or kale, fresh lemon juice & a clove of garlic. Most fruit and veggies eaten are organic and I grow and preserve some of my own chemical free garden produce
~ Charles R. Swindoll
Changes after Cancer continues …
MEDICATION AND SUPPLEMENTS – I do not take any medication but since 2008 take daily vitamin supplements curcumin plus Vitamin D
ALCOHOL & COFFEE – No alcohol after breast cancer (2008) due to increased risk of cancer recurrence
Also no caffeine drinks eg coffee, tea at this time to also reduce risk of possible breast cancer metastasis. Current status on this controversial topic is still being medically debated.
CARE -Look after yourself! Plus ~. It’s important to your health care to be able to talk with your doctor.
PRO-ACTIVE – Being proactive with your health is very important.
STRESS – Try to minimize stress which is gaining more attention as a risk factor for sickness. Stress can affect your immune system, both negative and positive. Fatigue can be a concern and for some, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the new “norm” for many cancer survivors and families.
~ Irish Proverb
FAITH, HOPE, LOVE & LAUGHTER
This should be first on the list! Laughter and humour are not usually associated with cancer but I found that it is one of the best times to not “take yourself too seriously”. It is extremely hard on your family and care givers as they see you at your worst.
Be kind. Even if you don’t feel like it. I have read that humour and laughter help you to: sleep better, relieves stress, improves breathing and general health, and makes you feel younger. Humour and laughter can give you a positive attitude and keep you well in times of illness.
You may have to fight the battle
more than once to win it.
~ Margaret Thatcher
Regular Check Ups:
- Women: age 40 – 49 for breast cancer mammography
- Men: age 40 for prostate cancer baseline PSA test and DRE screening
- If a close relative has had primary cancer consider testing earlier
It is impossible to cover the many changes in the past 10 years but hoping this has helped and encouraged you. Both primary cancers were discovered very early and this, I believe, as well as maintaining my best health were factors in my remarkable recovery. My faith has been incredibly important to me during this time and there is always much to be thankful for. Make time for yourself, family, friends, joy and laughter.
Take care ~ Liz
PS: The changes continue …
God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change,
Courage to change things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference
~ Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971)
… and closing on a positive note:
“As an oncologist, when people ask me if there’s a cure for cancer, I say,
‘Yes, good health is the best prescription for
preventing chronic diseases, including cancer,’”
said Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., M.P.H., director of
CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Links & References:
- The clinical evidence behind the ‘Laughter Prescription’ – the best medicine
- Fall into the habit of being proactive with your health
- A New Year & Time for a Change (2017)
- Sugar is a big problem – What About Sugar (2016)
- If You Have a Cancer Diagnosis
- Health & Fitness Resolutions any time of year (2015)
- Side Effects of Breast Cancer Radiation
- Encouragement from a Two Time Cancer Survivor
- More thoughts on changes from Caramel & Parsley (2012)
- A special letter between cancer surgeries Evidence for a Healthy Lifestyle (2011)
- “This is Your Fight” song – Rachel Platten