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Healthy You

5 Ways to Feel your Best During Cancer Treatment

Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:57 AM

Cancer can take a toll on your health mentally and physically. A few hours of chemotherapy can leave you feeling a number of side effects—nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness and an overall feeling of weakness. You may be worn down physically, but we aim to assist in trying not to let it get the best of you.  

Here are 5 ways you can care for your body and mind so you can feel your best during cancer treatment, as suggested by Bruce E. Brockstein, M.D., Director, Kellogg Cancer Center

Cancer Treatment

Prioritize sleep.

Sleeping is your body’s way of re-energizing and healing. Your blood pressure drops and your heart can take a much-needed break. Sleep causes the body to release hormones that can slow breathing, and relax other muscles in the body. This process can reduce inflammation and assist with healing. Proper sleep is crucial for recovery.

Talk to other people with cancer. 

If you’re feeling like you’re experiencing this journey alone, you aren’t. It may be helpful to talk to other people who have been in your situation or are currently undergoing treatment as well. Join one of our support groups, or one in your area—such as through the Cancer Wellness Center or contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Talking about how you're feeling out loud to others can help alleviate stress.

Additional support resources are available here. 

Eat foods that are nourishing, but treat yourself, too. 

You’ve probably heard this one before, but eating a balanced diet is ideal. Your diet should consist of a variety of whole foods that promote recovery, healing, well-being and a boost of energy. When possible, one that avoids too many carbohydrates—especially refined carbohydrates that lack fiber, and other foods with added sugars—is helpful. However, for some people side effects may make an ideal diet difficult and we offer consultation with our team of registered dieticians for all of those in need. With head and neck, esophagus and lung cancers, often cold food may be best, like ice cream, suggests Dr. Brockstein.

For recommended cancer-fighting recipes, check out Kellogg Cancer Center's Fueling the Fight cookbook. 

Have a good laugh. 

Ever heard of the term, “Laughter is the best medicine?” Research has found that it’s indeed very good for you! Researchers have found that after a good laugh, your blood pressure is lower. Laughter can also reduce anxiety and other emotions. It’s also an immune booster, a natural anti-depressant, and it’s good for your cardiovascular system.

Try something new.

There are lots of things in life that we naturally shy away from because we’re fearful, but you’ll soon realize that the mind exaggerates things. Try to keep a normal lifestyle, but think of new things to do that spark your interest. Learn a new language, go on a weekend getaway, write that short story you’ve had on the back burner for a while or even knitting. Trying new things can be a good distraction. The keyword is “try.”

If you’re undergoing treatment currently, don’t forget to find the support you and your family members need at NorthShore's Kellogg Cancer Center. Meet with one of our specialists to discuss personalized treatment and support resources.