A cancer diagnosis hits hard, but many people are able to beat cancer by carefully following the directions of their medical team. And part of this approach should include focusing on improving spiritual and physical health - really no matter what illness you’re fighting. Read on to learn the benefits of improving your self-care routine when you’re navigating the difficult road of a cancer diagnosis.
Take good care of yourself
Whether it’s lung cancer or a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, battling illness is a formidable mission. It’s time to prioritize being kind to your body. Start with your diet; make sure you are getting enough lean protein to help you gain energy. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains for their nutrition. If you need assistance with your diet, seek out a nutritionist. Ayurvedic and Nutritional Therapists are available through Solihull Well Being Clinic.
Be sure to get some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighbourhood Exercise keeps you from losing muscle tone and mobility during treatment. It also promotes hunger, which is important, because many cancer patients lose their appetites. Stretching is a great way to de-stress, as it can release tension, promote good circulation, improve mood and energy levels, and reduce pain and stiffness. Tai Chi and Yoga classes can be very helpful in this regard and can be accessed at our clinic.
Fighting cancer is also the time to indulge in harmless pleasures to your heart’s content. Spend as long as you want in the shower or bathtub. Get a home massage. Binge on your favorite television shows. Sleep in as late as you want. Stick to activities that are beneficial to your mind and body.
Some people with cancer are prescribed pain medications such as opioids. These medications are quite effective in controlling the severe pain of cancer and cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy. Responsible medical professionals who prescribe opioids have weighed the risk of addiction against the benefits of pain relief, and they believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
Nevertheless, before accepting an opioid prescription, tell your doctor if you have a history of addiction to any substance like alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs. To avoid addiction, take your medication only as prescribed. Observe daily limits and keep track of how many pills you have taken in a day. Don’t stockpile medications, don’t take anyone else’s medications, and don’t seek prescription renewals that have not been suggested by your doctors. Also, be aware that opioids and other painkillers can be addictive, even in modest doses. Common side effects of opioids include nausea and constipation. People who overdose on opioids are at risk of death due to respiratory problems.
Benefits of Faith & Spirituality
Recent research shows that spirituality and religion play a part in the emotional and physical well-being of cancer patients. A 2015 study of 44,000 cancer patients found that those with a positive relationship to their faith were not only happier, but they also reported better physical health. If you have cancer, in other words, it’s may be a good time to become more involved in your religious community or rediscover your faith.
At the same time, if you feel “spiritual distress,” you could be at risk of being sicker. Spiritual distress can be roughly described as feeling separated from God or having doubts about your faith. If you are experiencing this kind of distress, it may be wise to seek spiritual counselling from a religious leader or counsellor.
Even if you don’t belong to an organized religion, you can still practice spirituality. Sam Harris’ “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion” provides guidance to atheists and religious skeptics on how to be spiritual outside religious institutions. Spirituality without religion might consist of putting other people and the natural world ahead of yourself. People who have been diagnosed with cancer can put this into action by taking time to improve their relationships with others, examining what makes them angry, and striving for inner peace.
Your chances of recovering from cancer are better now than they have been at any other point in history. Treatment is likely to be challenging, but the goal is to restore your health and get you back to the job and family you love. By taking good care of yourself in mind, body, and spirit, you will have an easier time during treatment.
Maintaining hope provides a positive perspective, and creates the energy needed to fight off disease. If you are feeling down or experiencing hopelessness, a period of supportive counselling may be helpful, and at Solihull Well Being Clinic we have a number of counsellors who can assist.
For wider, community based support please consider the following services;
RELATE Macmillan Cancer Support Service : Help for individuals, couples or families living with cancer 0121 643 1638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Macmillan Cancer Buddy Service (Solihull and Birmingham) : Practical and emotional support led by volunteers for anyone affected by cancer, including carers and family members. Volunteers can help with gardening or housework, shopping, lifts to community appointments, preparing a light meal, having a chat over tea, support over the phone and signposting to other relevant services. Call 07473 613 712 or email birmingham email@example.com
Cancer Rehabilitation Exercise Scheme - a programme of specialist group exercise classes costing £2.50 each, for people affected by cancer. Visit www.solihullactive.co.uk or call 0121 704 8207 for Solihull Tudor Grange Leisure Centre or 0121 770 3822 for North Solihull Sports Centre in Chelmsley Wood.
Cervical Screening - women aged 25yrs-49yrs and 50yrs-64yrs ask your GP for an appointment
Breast Screening - women aged 47-73yrs invited for screenings every 3yrs (or you may call 02476 96 7200). If you just want support with any worries or questions you may have about breast cancer symptoms, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk
Bowel Screening - men and women aged 60-74yrs invited for screenings every 2yrs (or you may call 0800 707 60 60)
Scott is a guest writer for Solihull Well Being Clinic, and has set-up a supporitve website for cancer patients, available at www.cancerwell.org