I ask this of cancer patient who are suffering from the intense effects of cancer or treatments. Are you doing everything you can to help your body with the incredible challenge it’s facing, perhaps the greatest challenge of your life?
As I spoke the words recently, I had to face the fact that I had let my own body down. I eat healthy foods and try to stay active but my current treatments have introduced more pain and fatigue over time and my body has responded by slowing down, demanding more bed time, limiting my life in small increments that cumulatively have taken a huge toll on my ability to sustain my quality of life.
It’s time, I decided, to help support the hard job my body has of staying active and living life. The answer? Get help from the experts and build a plan to feel better – which for me means increase energy, rebuild bone density, reduce fatigue, lessen joint pain, reduce weight and sleep better. My plan timeframe is 90 days, surely enough time to make an impact.
Consulting with a certified oncology nutritionist, I discovered that some foods help reduce fatigue, some decrease inflammation, some help the body resist cancer, and some add or reduce weight. Armed with this valuable information, I can customize a diet addressing my specific goals.
The tracking mechanism is a food diary that categorizes foods with various properties, in different combinations, and specific times of day. I already take multiple vitamins but we identify a few gaps, like digestive enzymes which help after numerous abdominal surgeries. I meet weekly with the nutritionist to review my nutritional strategy and progress.
An oncology physical rehab therapist at the hospital evaluates my current status and key measurements such as girth, weight, strength (weights/reps), and heart rate. We develop a plan for daily activity that builds muscle mass but with consideration of limitations imposed by my surgical history. I meet with the therapist weekly but report daily pedometer readings.
Mind/Body Connection involves yoga twice a week, Tai Chi weekly and meditation at least 3 times weekly. I love guided meditation and always sleep better when I’m meditating daily, but I’ve let this slip away. I make a commitment to set aside a half hour daily to meditate.
Medical evaluation includes all vitals plus blood work, bone density, and monitoring of pain medications which I now take as needed. By documenting when I need pain meds and tracking which activities coincided with the pain, we may know more about preventing and reducing it.
Finally, the most important tool of all: attitude. I will not give up on living my best life possible. I am determined to help my body, to draw on resources that support it with best tools available so that our journey together is as good as it can be.
And now I feel empowered knowing that I’m taking action to help my body succeed.
Annette, a 23 year survivor of ovarian cancer and 2 year survivor of breast cancer, has had ongoing treatments for cancer. She coaches cancer patients on coping with treatment and inspires them to take control of their cancer journey