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These Are the 3 Most Important Things You Can Do for Yourself While Fighting Cancer

A cancer diagnosis turns life on its head. In the midst of navigating treatment plans and insurance payments, you have to deal with the emotional fallout of your cancer diagnosis and the daily effects that cancer has on your life. Keeping your spirits up and your health intact during this difficult time requires a lot of self-care.

It’s not easy finding the energy for self-care when dealing with the aftermath of cancer treatment, but self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. These are three simple yet impactful things you can do to care for yourself during cancer treatment.

Prioritize Good Sleep

The effects of cancer treatment on sleep feel like a cruel joke: You’re constantly fatigued, but you can’t sleep. About half of all cancer patients experience the symptoms of insomnia. Over time, sleep loss weakens the immune system and your body’s ability to fight cancer.

If pain is keeping you up at night, consider replacing your mattress with one that relieves pressure for a better night’s sleep. According to Slumber Yard, a memory foam mattress, for example, that is designed specifically for your sleeping position offers the most comfort because it aligns your spine while providing cushion where your body needs it most, whether you’re a side, back, or combo sleeper.

If intrusive thoughts keep you from dozing off, try getting more exercise during the day and avoiding caffeine past lunchtime so you’re tired at night. Then, if your mind is racing, use relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises to calm your body and mind.

Eat When and What You Can

Weight loss is common in cancer patients, as nausea, taste changes, and appetite loss make it difficult to eat and drink. If you’re not eating, you’re at risk of malnutrition, which weakens your body and increases your risk of treatment-related complications.

It is possible to get enough calories and nutrients, even when cancer treatment side effects make it hard to eat. Since most patients can’t tolerate heavy meals, it’s recommended to eat frequent meals and snacks throughout the day, focusing on high-calorie and high-protein foods. Nutritional shakes such as Ample are another option, but you should check with your doctor to find one that meets your nutritional needs. Consuming foods and beverages at room temperature, rather than chilled or hot, can also help you cope with cancer nausea.

ASK FOR AND ACCEPT HELP

Asking for help is hard, but when you have cancer, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. A cancer diagnosis is too much to handle alone, both logistically and emotionally. By accepting help, you can lighten the burden of household chores, meal preparation, scheduling, bills, and other everyday demands. You can also get support working through thoughts and feelings regarding your diagnosis and someone to talk to when you need a break.

Family and friends can be a wonderful source of support, but often, they don’t know how to help and are afraid of overstepping. Help your loved ones help you by creating a wish list of things they can do. This can range from little things like dropping off the dry cleaning to big favors like attending medical appointments with you to take notes.

Don’t stop at the people you know. Support groups, both in-person and online, are invaluable when you’re feeling isolated in your illness. When it feels like no understands what you’re going through, you can turn to support groups and talk to people who know exactly how you feel.

Cancer treatment takes a lot out of you. At times, it can feel impossible to keep moving forward under the weight of it all. While these three self-care practices won’t solve all of your problems, they will help you maintain your well-being so you can give your all to the fight against cancer.


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