Cancer Care 101: 7 Tips to Safeguard Your Health

How you live can directly affect your health and wellness, especially if you have cancer. A healthy lifestyle can help you feel and look better as well as support your treatments. It can also boost your long-term well-being.

But there are plenty of things to think about and decisions to make as soon as you find out that you have cancer. You might not have the energy, time, and other resources to determine where and how you’ll get the best cancer care. In most cases, you may even get disappointed about needing to lead a healthy lifestyle. Well, don’t be!

From choosing among the leading oncology hospitals in the UAE to getting enough sleep and eating well, here are seven tips to safeguard your health.

1. Choose a good doctor and hospital.

Some people may find an oncology hospital first and choose an excellent oncologist who practices there. Others may initially look for a doctor who works in a medical facility specialising in cancer care. Whichever you choose, getting help from a cancer expert is the key to coping well with your illness.

The process of choosing a doctor and hospital may take time. Avoid rushing through this, thinking that you must start treatment sooner. Ask the doctor who diagnosed your cancer if there is a need for you to act immediately or take a short but safe amount of time to go through all your options.

Here are the basic steps to choosing the right oncologist:

Step 1: Determine your needs and wants

Before anything else, you must list the qualities you want your oncologist to have. These may include experience, expertise, and specialisation. Studies have shown that doctors have higher success rates at treating a condition if they specialise and have plenty of experience in it.

Moreover, choose a doctor who has privileges (or practices) at the hospital you want to use.

Step 2: Make a list of potential doctors

Once you have determined the qualities of the oncologist you want to work with, get referrals from reputable people, such as your primary doctor. You can also talk to cancer patients near you about their doctors and treatments. This way, you will learn more about the doctors you are considering, such as their medical certifications, areas of expertise, languages spoken, and office locations.

Step 3: Find out more about the doctors

Once you have a list of oncologists that seem a great fit for you, call their offices and set appointments.

Trust your instincts when choosing a doctor for you. Most importantly, go for the one you feel comfortable working with.

It will take more than one visit before you get a feel of the oncologists. But carefully selecting who to entrust your health to will pay off for years to come. Your relationship will most probably last through your treatment into follow-up care.

2. Accept support

Apart from your chosen oncologist, other people can also support you throughout your treatment. Studies have shown that having a network of supportive individuals is highly beneficial to cancer patients; it helps them live longer and lead a better quality of life.

To build a support system, you must:

  • Join a support group. Speaking with people who have the same experience can help you cope.
  • Ask for help.
  • Support other people to create a resilient cycle of giving and taking.  

3. Manage your stress

Minimizing your stress levels will help maintain good physical and mental health. Here’s how:

  • Find time to self-reflect or meditate. You may also take a moment to be mindful while brushing your teeth, taking a bath, or washing your hands.
  • Use relaxation techniques like yoga and guided imagery.
  • The key is to allot at least 20 minutes of your day to manage your stress.

4. Exercise

Getting physically active during and after your treatment can help minimize fatigue, loss of strength, and weight gain.

Some of the best fitness tips you should try include:

  • Performing aerobic activities to get your heart pumping
  • Following a fitness regimen that is safe for you
  • Breaking up your sitting or lying time by standing up and walking around every hour
  • Engaging in short bursts of exercise
  • Integrating physical activities into family gatherings, trips, or time with friends

Talk to your oncologist about a fitness routine that is appropriate and safe for you.

5. Get enough sleep

Ideally, you need to sleep at least seven hours each night to help boost your health. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep can also improve your mood, coping ability, attention, and memory.

To ensure a good night’s sleep, you should:

  • Set a bedtime and make sure to stick to it.
  • Avoid screen time before your bedtime. This includes using your smart devices and watching TV.
  • Avoid stimulants such as sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Keep your bedroom dark.

6. Develop healthy eating habits

For your treatment to be effective, you need to maintain your weight and eat well. But this is difficult to do if the side effects of your treatment negatively affect your desire and ability to eat.

Fortunately, there are tips to help you establish good eating habits. These include:

  • Integrating high-fibre foods in your diet, such as lentils, nuts, peas, whole grains, and beans.
  • Adding a variety of vegetables to your meals.
  • Adding prebiotics or probiotics to boost a healthy gut. Prebiotics include raw garlic, dandelion greens, and chicory root. On the other hand, probiotics include fermented vegetables, yogurt, miso, and pickles. You may also consider taking the best adult probiotic supplements.
  • Including monounsaturated fats and omega-3 in your diet. Some great sources are canola and olive oil, walnuts, avocado, chia seeds, flaxseed, and coldwater fish like tuna and salmon.
  • Practising eating in smaller portion sizes. Start by using smaller plates and bowls.
  • Figuring out if you feel hungry and full.

A healthy diet will help you recover faster and deal with common cancer side effects. If you don’t know where to start, speak to your oncologist about developing a safe diet plan.

7. Limit exposure to environmental toxins

Whenever possible, you need to avoid environmental toxins like asbestos, tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, styrene, and tetrachloroethylene. These pollutants can worsen or increase your risk of cancer and other health conditions.

Fighting cancer is much easier said than done. But this doesn’t mean anyone should give up on life upon being diagnosed with cancer. Instead, reset your life and start implementing these cancer care tips. You will be surprised at how proper coping can help you enjoy a happy, comfortable, healthy and worry-free life.

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