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Top Ten Lifestyle Changes for Cancer Recovery

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

Greg Anderson was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in 1984. He had one lung removed. Four months later, his surgeon said, “Your cancer has come roaring back." The doctor estimated Greg's life expectancy as 30 days. But he's still alive and well today, encouraging others to recover from cancer. He founded the Cancer Recovery Foundation Group of Charities, and has written ten books. I was impressed with his latest one.

Selecting a medical team and treatment plan are essential parts to recovery from cancer. But they're not enough, according to Anderson. It may take months or years to get well after a diagnosis of metastatic cancer, and the recovery process includes a dramatically different lifestyle. Here are the ten items that I would start with:

1. Get more sleep. Most of us are accustomed to a schedule where sleep gets low priority. Reset your schedule when you're recovering from cancer: Devote at least eight hours to sleep at night, and take naps as often as you feel like it.

2. Eat high-quality food. This is not the time for dollar value meals; your body deserves the best, nutrient-rich food.

3. Take time to play. You don't need to be doing something that looks productive during all your waking hours. Find things you like to just for fun.

4. Find things to laugh at. Rent funny videos or buy humorous books that you enjoy. Cancer is a serious business, so balance it with silliness and comedy.

5. Exercise. Choose something you like and stick with it.

6. Minimize treatment side effects. Work with your doctors to find the optimum treatment program for you. Recovery is not supposed to be miserable.

7. Find a positive support group. Check www.cancerrecovery.org to start your search.

8. Evaluate your relationships. Make a list of the 10 most important relationships in your life. Put toxic relationships on hold, and spend more time with the nurturing ones.

9. Eliminate active and passive smoking. If you smoke now, you may need a nicotine replacement option, such as patches. Stay away from the carcinogens in smoke.

10. Get beyond “why?” It doesn't matter why you got cancer; it just matters that you're recovering.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.