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How Can Pharma Help Promote Healthy Lifestyles?

We all recognize the significance and influence of pharmaceutical companies. Not only have they done an excellent job of keeping many of us alive past our expiration dates, they have made it possible to live longer lives with quality, positivity, and happiness. It’s true. We often paint them as greedy or even malevolent – and there have certainly been some bad actors – but on the whole, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

They can do more

Pharmaceutical companies not only have our attention, but they also have the resources to make changes wherever they see fit to focus their energies. There are certainly lots of needs in our cancer patient community and nearly all can and should be influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Number one on my list is access to information, resources, and proactive enablers for healthy and active lifestyles before, during, and after treatment. In short, Pharma, don’t just tell us to exercise. Help us get there.

Benefits of a healthy lifestyle

The quality of life improvement alone is enough to warrant including resources at every patient summit, support meetings, and doctor’s visits. Articles and cheerleading are important, but most patients need more. They need resources that are easier to access, and sometimes they need active coaching, counseling, and interaction.

Obstacles

Blood cancers affect people of every age and from every socioeconomic demographic, but many multiple myeloma patients are over 60 years old. Everyone ages differently, of course, and we all have different backgrounds, but often as we age we experience challenges to our health that come with the miles. Loss of cartilage in joints, lowered metabolism, decreased hormone production, and decreased bone health are normal in otherwise healthy adults. Sedentary lifestyles, unexpected life events, and unhealthy diets are also things that make purposefully active routines challenging.

With cancer, additional challenges to a healthy lifestyle crop up, and they aren’t for the faint of heart. Bone pain, fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and loss of strength or balance are just a few. It’s not always just the cancer itself. Sometimes, treatment has side effects that can be tougher than just dealing with the underlying disease.

Living with cancer is hard, it takes a lot of commitment to try to get well, stay well, and live a life. Purposefully moving is often the last thing on a cancer patient’s mind. Motivation often needs a lot of help.

It’s harder than it looks

All of us are at least aware of ways in which we could do better. Even those of us in healthcare or fitness industries struggle with eating right every day, and putting our bodies through the motions necessary to stay strong and feel good. Life has a tendency to creep up on us. Supposedly, I do all the right things:

  • I am an active member of my local YMCA.
  • My closet is full of all the right workout clothing and shoes.
  • They aren’t always the latest versions, but I have lots of bicycles and swim gear.
  • There are TONS of people in my personal sphere of influence from the fitness and sports industries who motivate and inspire me daily.
  • I make an effort to eat well and encourage my family to make health a priority.
  • Participating in endurance sports for nearly 35 years has given me the wisdom and desire to move
  • I am a certified personal trainer, I lead an organization advocating for healthy lifestyles, I have cancer, and I admit – I fail to adhere to my own stated values more often than I succeed.

Access

So how hard is it for others when they have to navigate it by themselves, without easy access and nobody to coach them through challenges as they come up?

There are more things that pharmaceutical companies can do that would benefit their patients, their research and the world. Here’s a short list:

  1. Promote active lifestyles directly to patients;
  2. Encourage healthcare providers to “prescribe” healthy lifestyles;
  3. Increase access to fitness and active lifestyle resources by funding telehealth/telemedicine programs for patients at low or no cost;
  4. Connect healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, trainers, coaches, occupational therapists, kinesiologists, nurse practitioners and specialist MDs in every region who can implement solutions and can interact directly with patients.

If education, motivation, cost, and geography are the major obstacles to healthier, more active, and ultimately happier patients, Pharma can be a part of the solution. Let’s have a conversation.

Keep Moving Forward

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

Comments

  • Ann Harper moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Movement is life. I am a Cancer Exercise Specialist and one of the things I was taught is the importance exercise during and after chemo to decrease cachexia. It would be great for pharmaceutical companies to hook us up with professional that can help us achieve our goals but I don’t see that happening. Too much much money would be lost. Thanks for the article.

  • KennyCapps author
    4 weeks ago

    Thanks, Ann. To clarify, how do you think that money would be lost? And why do you think that they Pharmaceutical companies would want to not employ professionals like you?

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 month ago

    @kennycapps
    I agree there is a lot more that can be done, but one of the biggest issues is reaching those to have the conversations needed. I guess this is where patient advocates come into play, but sometimes I feel most of these companies still don’t ask the right questions at the right time. There’s room to do a bit here but I feel somethings are not done timely due to red- tape in doing.

  • KennyCapps author
    1 month ago

    Absolutely! I think it’s symbiotic. They need us too. Maybe not as much as we need them… but they need us!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Exactly! We all need each other!

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    1 month ago

    @kennycapps Funnily enough, I thought the exact same thing about big pharma – heartless, profit driven, etc, but then one day I went to a patient advisory board for a company and it was a surprise. I can’t say who, obviously covered by the agreement, but the company really gave a sense that they actually cared about patients and what WE needed, as opposed to what they could sell, so it was refreshing. I hope more in the future follow suit. Great piece. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • KennyCapps author
    1 month ago

    Exactly! The more they hear from us, the more they know how to do what they do so well… better!

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