An apple and a broccoli practice tree pose on yoga mats.

My Experience with American Cancer Society Recommendations

According to the American Cancer Society's 2022 Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer survivors, a healthy diet and regular physical activity are the most important modifiable factors in the long term health for a blood cancer survivor.1

I found this article most interesting as now both my husband and I are among the 16.9 million cancer survivors, and we are most eager to follow any recommendations for health.

The article is based on the growing evidence that diet and physical activity can help some cancer patients live longer and improve their overall health and wellness. The recommendations include avoiding obesity and increasing muscle mass thru diet and physical activity.

Nutrition is important

The guidelines recommend nutrition assessment and counseling.

During my husband’s recent cancer diagnosis, we met with a nutritionist who explained the importance of balanced meals during and after chemotherapy. The goal was to prevent any nutritional deficiencies, maintain muscle mass, and deal with any eating side effects from the chemotherapy. This is consistent with the ACS guidelines which emphasize that eating nutritious foods can improve the survivor’s energy levels and make them feel stronger.
Suggestions include:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables every day. Colorful vegetables and fruits contain natural health promoting substances. Consider a variety of colored vegetables such as dark, green, red, and orange. Including leafy green spinach daily in my husband’s diet also helped improve his lab values as his platelets were drastically lowered due to chemotherapy.
  • Encourage whole fruits and grains
  • Lessen red or highly processed meats. Try to maintain your body weight. If you are losing weight, try eating frequent small meals during the day. Consider high calorie, high protein beverages like milk shakes.

Get moving

The benefits of physical activity may also help improve survival in certain cancers. Anxiety, depression, and fatigue can be lessened with physical activity. I personally discovered this while experiencing incapacitating fatigue after chemotherapy. Yoga reduced my fatigue, cleared my head, and gave me energy.

ACS recommends that physical activity assessment and counseling begin as soon as possible after a cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, my husband began a physical rehabilitation program after his cancer surgery. It has continued after his chemotherapy and has lessened the fatigue and weakness associated with his therapy.

When your physician advises, start slowly. Gradually increase how often and how long you exercise. Consider walking, yoga, bicycling etc. Listen to your body, do not overdo.

Having a dog has greatly increased our physical activity. We stroll for long walks in the fresh air. This combined with my husband’s physical rehabilitation program has lessened his weakness, and fatigue.

Together we are striving to eat more nutritious meals and follow these American Cancer Society guidelines for cancer survivors.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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