Staying Healthy as a Cancer Survivor

As a cancer survivor, you can imagine that we can become tired of physician appointments, tests, and treatments. However, we need to take action to maintain our health. Your oncologist will advise as to the frequency of diagnostics and labs for your cancer surveillance. You are a cancer survivor but must now take all necessary actions to stay healthy, which means follow-ups for your blood cancer and following national guidelines for screening and medical care.

Adjusting to additional preventative medical care

Your primary medical doctor (PMD) or other health care provider may encourage physical exams, which may include appropriate immunizations. I have received the flu and pneumovax immunization in an effort to support my weakened immune system. The shingles vaccine may also be considered in order to reduce the chance of reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

A mammogram and pap test are also part of my annual evaluation. Depending on your age and family history, a colonoscopy may be indicated as a cancer screening tool.

Unfortunately, I have had repeat basal cell carcinoma on my face, so now my dermatologist is part of my health screenings. I use sunscreen in order to minimize skin damage from sun exposure. I also always use an umbrella while on the beach.

I have a dental appointment tomorrow as a precaution since I did experience dry mouth after my chemotherapy treatment. In my case, dry mouth predisposed me to cavities, and I needed a root canal. My ophthalmologist or eye doctor is part of my healthcare team. I also experienced dry eye after chemotherapy, so checkups are indicated and have become part of my wellness regimen.

Making time for exercise and emotional well-being

I have never enjoyed exercise, but I recognize its importance in maintaining a healthy weight and physical status. My husband and I joined a fitness club and try to exercise and use the equipment. Walking is a terrific way to keep in shape and stay healthy.

Eating a well-balanced diet is also important so that a healthy weight can be maintained. I have tried to include more vegetables, fruits, and salads in my diet. Unfortunately, I do have a sweet tooth especially for chocolate, so this presents a challenge.

Mental health and attitude are very important. I have discovered yoga, reflexology, and meditation as strategies to encourage a positive attitude. Make time for family and friends for positive support. Avoid negative people and situations as they can be unnecessary stressors.

I found religion as a spiritual support during my illness. My faith has become part of my daily routine and gives me strength. My priorities include faith, family, and friends.

Listening to my body

It is also extremely important to recognize and report any unusual symptoms or concerns. Sometimes denial is a wonderful thing, as we fear a recurrence, but we must advise our physician of anything out of the ordinary. Be open and talk with your physician about any concerns.

As a cancer survivor, I look at each day as a gift and need to appreciate life’s precious moments. I will strive to maintain my health and pray that my blood cancer remains dormant.

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