Taking Care of Your Body and Mind

Having cancer causes you to reevaluate everything in your life. When you're going through treatment, you have to try and just get through the day and do whatever it is that will allow you to feel better for that period of time. After treatment, you want to get healthy and, hopefully, your cancer never comes back. You want your old life back, but your life after cancer will never be the same. Taking care of yourself - mind and body - is so important. That’s what my daughter, Crystal, decided to do after finishing her treatments at age 25.

Crystal began changing her lifestyle before cancer

Before having cancer, Crystal had decided to become a vegetarian. She was learning about the cruelty to some animals raised on farms and decided she didn’t want to contribute to that.

She was also starting to get into running. She had recently moved to a different state and wanted to make a few new friends. She found out about a local run club and decided to join. She also joined a gym and her plan was to get into really good shape. Crystal is a Naval Reservist and so she has to keep in shape in order to keep her position.

Cancer enters the picture

She had her life in order and was meeting some new people. She was starting to really enjoy her new home and friends, but then she got cancer. She had to take a leave from her job and her reservist position to care for herself. Crystal had to give up her apartment and her new life and come home. This was really hard for her to do, but she looked forward to spending some time with family. Coming home was bittersweet.

During cancer, Crystal did whatever she could to just get through the day. She couldn’t do much during the week of treatments because of how ill she became, but she tried to enjoy her good weeks. Luckily, she is now cancer-free. Treatments took a lot out of her, but she wasn’t going to let cancer take any more or her life.

After cancer, a new focus on exercise and diet

She went back home with a plan and that was to become even healthier than she was before. Crystal knew she had to take care of her body and her mind so she could be strong enough to rebuild her life after cancer. One of the things she does now is to try and eat only organic fruits and vegetables. The chemicals sprayed on produce may not be healthy. She also eats very little meat, typically only fish.

Crystal is also back at the gym. When she first got back, she hired a personal trainer to help her get into shape. She felt it was money well spent. Since then, Crystal has joined two run clubs. Running has helped her to feel good physically and mentally. The physical aspect is easy to see, but knowing she can run and accomplish 5k’s has helped her to feel mentally strong, as well. Because of her love for running, Crystal is now thinking of starting a run club of her own. She also wants to become a personal trainer and a running coach. She is excited about the future and wants to stay as healthy as possible. Her doctor told her it wasn’t anything she did that caused her to get cancer, but it always helps to keep your body as healthy as possible. This is her new goal and I'm proud of her for being so committed.

Setting goals to benefit our body and mind

Crystal had a goal from day one after coming home. She was going to go back and regain her life. So far, it has turned out better than she planned. I think a goal is definitely helpful to have as you go through tough times. Additionally, you have to take care of yourself. Eating well and exercising is so important. Good food nourishes your body, and exercise, which is so wonderful, helps you physically and mentally. Additionally, exercise helps you to sleep better and eases some of the stress you may be experiencing. Although the doctors typically tell us that most cancers are not from anything we’ve done, I believe that it still will help us to beat cancer if we make our body as strong as it can be. My favorite saying is, "If it doesn't hurt and it might help, why not!"

Editor's note: It is best to talk to your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any new diets or exercise regimens.

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