Staying Healthy as a Cancer Survivor

As a cancer survivor, I was focused on care for my blood cancer and its follow-up. I was personally tired of physician appointments, diagnostics, and treatment. This was doubly troublesome as my husband too recently completed cancer surgery and chemotherapy. It seemed like ours was a world of physician visits.

Your health is more than blood cancer

However, non-cancer care is equally important. Studies have shown that potentially preventable conditions like heart disease and diabetes can be averted by medical care. Preventive care and management of other medical conditions may be more important in the long term. The survivorship plan should include lifestyle issues of diet, exercise, impact of smoking, immunizations and planned diagnostics.

"Regular" care from doctor is important, too

It is important to decide which physician will provide follow-up for your care as a cancer survivor. I chose to continue to see my oncologist for follow-up cancer care and my family physician for routine care. It is important that both physicians communicate your progress and test results. This will ensure total patient care and encourage wellness.

We began to make our health a priority. We recognized that non-cancer care is as important. I started a journal to include which physicians we should see for routine health maintenance, including dates for follow-up and tests as recommended.

Don't forget to schedule annual tests

I use “notes” on my iPhone to keep track of the required follow-up appointments. These included:

  • Annual physical
  • Annual mammogram
  • Visit with gastroenterologist for colonoscopy.
  • Bone density test
  • Routine lab work such as measuring cholesterol.
  • Visit with ophthalmologist
  • Health promotion activities such as staying up to date with vaccines such as flu and Covid boosters.

Adopting healthy life practices

After your cancer treatment is completed, a new chapter in your life will begin that can bring hope and happiness. Consider health promoting activities such as:

  • Maintaining a normal weight
  • Not smoking
  • Including exercise in your daily routine. Yoga, stretching, light weightlifting and walking outside in fresh air and sunshine can have beneficial effects.
  • Inventory your medications. It is important to organize and discard old prescriptions. Check the vitamins and over -the-counter medications for expiration dates. Discard outdated bottles. Be sure to ensure that your supply of medications is adequate, order as needed to avoid running out of medications.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol that you drink.
  • Protect your skin from overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Rest well. Sleeping gives your mind and body time to recover and refresh. A good night sleep can improve brain function, improve hormone levels and reduce blood pressure.
  • Focus on socializing. There is nothing like “in person” interaction. A casual lunch with a friend or family member can raise your spirits. My husband and I enjoy an occasional lunch with old friends.
  • Reduce stress. Find ways to help yourself relax. As a cancer survivor, we can be anxious with pending results of any tests. I find meditation and yoga as relaxing strategies. I have also learned to plan a periodic massage very beneficial is reducing my stress.

Try to use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do to now stay healthy as possible.

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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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