Taking charge of treatment and recovery
Returning to the Ireland article, we are given 11 ways to take charge of one’s treatment period and post-treatment recovery. It is suggested by this author that the person being treated for cancer commits to each step by jotting down what he/she chooses to do for each to set up activity goals:
- Embrace the news that regular physical exercise helps overcome the side effects of cancer treatment to include weight gain, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and to help maintain a positive outlook.
- Choose to stay active during treatment, if just walking 5 minutes per day. (If exercise is put off until the end of the treatment cycle, it will be difficult to muster up the energy to initiate an exercise regimen at that point.)
- For ongoing exercise, pick a physical activity you can not only tolerate but also enjoy.
- During the recovery phase, be realistic to not over-do or to cheat yourself by “under-doing”. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes x 5 days per week is customary. If exercise is maintained throughout the treatment period, this will be easier to start and to continue during the recovery period.
- Line up a friend or family member to exercise with you. (Time flies by with a buddy).
- Consider stretching exercises to loosen up joint stiffness or muscle weakness which can come from cancer treatment.
- If you have lymph node surgery, be aware that swelling with fluid buildup often results. Be receptive to special exercise and/or bandaging of the limb per oncologist’s direction.
- If you become ill, report this to your oncologist (or primary care-provider) and inquire if your exercise program should be temporarily halted.
- Accept that eating healthy and maintaining a positive outlook are an important part of your recovery. Choose to follow the recommendations of your nutritionist.
- Become familiar with local resources aimed at helping cancer survivors during and after treatment. Your social worker will be your invaluable gatekeeper for this information.
- Stay encouraged about your future, knowing that research into cancer cures, rehabilitation, and quality of life issues continue.