Taking Care of Yourself
All the things you’ve learned about staying healthy—good nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep and so on—may seem irrelevant once you find out that you have cancer. After all, you’ve already GOT cancer, so what’s the point of avoiding foods and behaviors that may increase your cancer risk?
That may be your first reaction, but hopefully you won’t feel that way for long. Eating well, getting exercise, taking care of your emotional health, and distracting yourself with fun activities and friends will all help you get through cancer treatment.
Nutrition is especially important right now, even though you may not feel like eating. Cancer treatment can kill your appetite. It can also make food taste funny. The best thing to do is eat foods that appeal to you. Also, eat small amounts throughout the day. Drink lots of fluids, even if you don’t feel like eating. Exercise and fresh air can help your appetite. So can eating with friends. Your nutritionist will have other suggestions to help keep you eating well.
Cancer treatment typically causes fatigue, and some days you may not feel like getting out of bed. But exercise can really help with fatigue caused by treatment. So get out of bed, take a shower and go for a walk with a friend.
In addition to helping you feel more energetic, exercise can help you sleep better at night, feel more like eating and deal with emotional ups and downs. Talk to your nurse to find out what kinds of exercise are OK for you.
There are times during cancer treatment when you are going to feel depressed, moody and just plain unhappy. Remember that you don’t need to hide all these feelings to make the people around you feel better.
Talk to your nurse and other members of your care team about how you feel. They will have suggestions for dealing with your feelings that will help you cope.
Sometimes, the best way to cope is to distract yourself with friends, school and other things you enjoy. Nobody wants to think about cancer 24/7—give yourself a break.
At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s, there are lots of people around who can help you and your family with your feelings as you go through cancer treatment.
Here are some ideas for how to distract yourself so you don’t have to think about cancer and treatment all the time.