A guide to wellness

Living with and after cancer comes with a lot of fear, anger, anxiety and uncertainty. Whether you’re recently diagnosed, undergoing treatment, or finished treatment, it’s important to practice and be engaged in self-care.

"It isn’t just about getting to meet the person who wants to marry your daughter. It isn’t even the idea that you will be there to see their wedding. No. It’s about dancing at your daughter’s wedding."

Encarni Blanca

Ovarian cancer survivor, Marseilles, France

Representative patient; for illustrative purposes only

Wellness as a holistic approach

Taking action yourself is also a strong stimulant of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional wellbeing

Nutrition

Cancer and some of its treatments may take a serious toll on your body, and what you eat can improve your strength and your attitude, helping to rebuild tissue and make you feel better overall.

Physical wellbeing

Exercise is just as important now as it ever was – maybe even more so. It’s good for your body, mind, emotions and spirit.

Body Image

Having a positive attitude has been proven to correlate with better outcomes, and having a good body image and self esteem helps with a positive attitude.

Alternative Medicine

Integrative medicine in combination with conventional medicine may help you keep a positive attitude, maintain or regain health and build a lifestyle focused on wellness.

You are what you eat

Some treatments have side effects that may affect your nutrition, such as loss of appetite, nausea, or difficulty swallowing. You should inform your medical team of these side effects, or if you are struggling to maintain your weight.

Quality of calories is often just as important as quantity of calories.
In general, a proper diet will help you feel better overall mentally and physically. Eating the right foods before and during treatment can help you keep up your strength, spirit, energy. It can also make it easier to tolerate treatment-related side effects.

It does make a difference.

"Exercise is important; most oncologists recommend trying to return to your normal levels of physical activity as soon as possible after diagnosis. Ask your healthcare professionals what is appropriate for you."

Sara Martinez Gonzalez

Medical Specialist, Hematologist

Boost your mood with these activities

Ask your healthcare team if these are appropriate for you.

Moderate intensity activities

Sports
Walking, Volleyball, Softball, Baseball, Badminton, Doubles Tennis, Downhill Skiing.

Social activities
Dancing, Golfing, Horseback Riding, Canoeing, Yoga & Pilates.

Vigorous Intensity activities

Sports
Swimming, Martial arts, Skiing, Soccer, Field or Ice hockey, Lacrosse, Singles Tennis, Racquetball, Basketball.

Social activities
Aerobic exercise or Dance, Jogging, Volleyball, Mountain biking

"Undisturbed sleep is important… It can make a difference"

Cristian Fernandez

Medical Specialist, Clinical Oncology

Body image

Intimacy and Reproductive Health

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Body image

There are ways to try and maintain our self-image regarding our appearance. Eating right, exercising, sleeping well can help keep your body strong and your spirits up. Sleep is very important too; try to get 7 – 8 hours per day, every day. Set a bedtime and stick to it.

Having a positive attitude has been proven to correlate with better outcomes, and having a good body image and self esteem helps with a positive attitude.

Intimacy and Reproductive Health

Sex, sexuality, and intimacy are important with or without cancer, However, the reality is that your sex organs, desire, body image may be affected by your disease and treatment. Getting pregnant during your treatment may not be recommended. You, or your partner, should bring all these issues up with your healthcare team so as to come up with a plan of dos and don’ts that are appropriate for you, as there is no one size fits all answer.

Is my cancer contagious to my partner?

How might treatment affect my sex life?

Is it safe to have sex now? If not, when will it be OK to have sex?

Are there any types of sex I should avoid?

Can I (or my partner) get pregnant now, or should we wait?

Do I need birth control or other protection during treatment?

How about afterwards? For how long?

Can my medications or treatment be passed to my partner through my body fluids?

What safety measures do I need to take, and for how long?

Will sex still be enjoyable?

Is there ‘safer’ sex as opposed to ‘risky’ sex?

Will my disease or treatment make sex difficult, require changes, or be unenjoyable?

Can I breast feed?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Before using any of these modalities, even if you have been using them prior to your diagnosis, speak with your physician and get their input.

Acupuncture                              Massage therapy

Meditation                                  Relaxation techniques

Music therapy                            Tai Chi & Yoga

Art Therapy                                Stress management

Body image

Body image

There are ways to try and maintain our self-image regarding our appearance. Eating right, exercising, sleeping well can help keep your body strong and your spirits up. Sleep is very important too; try to get 7 – 8 hours per day, every day. Set a bedtime and stick to it.

Having a positive attitude has been proven to correlate with better outcomes, and having a good body image and self esteem helps with a positive attitude.

Intimacy and Reproductive Health

Intimacy and Reproductive Health

Sex, sexuality, and intimacy are important with or without cancer, However, the reality is that your sex organs, desire, body image may be affected by your disease and treatment. Getting pregnant during your treatment may not be recommended. You, or your partner, should bring all these issues up with your healthcare team so as to come up with a plan of dos and don’ts that are appropriate for you, as there is no one size fits all answer.

Is my cancer contagious to my partner?

How might treatment affect my sex life?

Is it safe to have sex now? If not, when will it be OK to have sex?

Are there any types of sex I should avoid?

Can I (or my partner) get pregnant now, or should we wait?

Do I need birth control or other protection during treatment?

How about afterwards? For how long?

Can my medications or treatment be passed to my partner through my body fluids?

What safety measures do I need to take, and for how long?

Will sex still be enjoyable?

Is there ‘safer’ sex as opposed to ‘risky’ sex?

Will my disease or treatment make sex difficult, require changes, or be unenjoyable?

Can I breast feed?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Before using any of these modalities, even if you have been using them prior to your diagnosis, speak with your physician and get their input.

Acupuncture                              Massage therapy

Meditation                                  Relaxation techniques

Music therapy                            Tai Chi & Yoga

Art Therapy                                Stress management

Finding support is key to our mental health

Support from many external sources is a vital resource to take advantage of

Support Groups

Get in touch with online and local support groups to find emotional support.

Offering support to the caregiver

Care for mind and body with recommended compatible activities.

A word about pain

Unfortunately, pain is a common symptom in cancer patients. Pain is also frequently an impediment to being able to do the things one wants, to have quality of life. Often, people in pain do not mention that they are in pain, especially if it’s not debilitating. Often, they believe that they can ‘tough it out’ and try to ‘not be a baby’. “I’m a fighter”, they say. That is probably not the best way to handle pain. The issue is that often a small pain becomes a medium pain and then an excruciating pain.

Instead of treating the excruciating pain, it may be better for various reasons to treat the little pain before it escalates. It may be a good idea to record in a journal few times a day on a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level right now, with 1 being no pain and 10 being seeing stars? Take this with you to your doctor appointments and share it with the team. However, if the pain level is over 5, it may be worth a phone call to the physician’s office.​

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