Following breast cancer treatment, many women find themselves unsure of how to appropriately care for themselves. Hope for the Journey was established with the goal of helping women improve their well-being during and after their fight with breast cancer. A huge part of our mission is providing resources like this. Today, we want to discuss ways to improve your overall well-being after surviving breast cancer.
For some women, once cancer treatment ends, a new set of long-term side effects and health concerns occur. We'll explore ways to maintain your health and combat any side effects you may experience. Staying as healthy as possible is more important than ever after breast cancer treatment. Controlling your weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet may help you lower your risk of your breast cancer coming back, as well as help protect you from other health problems.
A healthy weight may lower your risk of getting chronic diseases and some other cancers, including breast cancer. It's important to monitor your calorie intake and activity level to ensure you are within a healthy range. To determine your ideal weight, we recommend using a BMI tool and consulting with your physician. If you need to lose weight, we recommend speaking with a dietitian. You may even be able to find free nutritional classes in your community. Aside from eating well, physical activity is an important part of losing weight. We recommend scheduling time to exercise for at least thirty minutes each day. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of exercise.
Among breast cancer survivors, studies have found a consistent link between physical activity and a lower risk of breast cancer coming back. Physical activity has also been linked to improvements in quality of life, physical function, and fewer fatigue symptoms. In fact, recent studies have shown that exercise may actually lower the risk of lymphedema or improve lymphedema symptoms.
Your ability to exercise will depend on your overall health and physical condition before your diagnosis. It's recommended that survivors start slowly and carefully. Your doctor and or your physical therapist can help you develop an exercise plan that’s right for you. When you're ready to begin exercising again, here are some tips to help you.
Before you do any type of exercise, make sure you warm up.
Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s or to yourself before breast cancer.
Make sure your form is excellent, even if it means doing less.
Stop if you feel pain.
If you take a yoga, aerobics, or other exercise class, be sure to talk to the instructor before class and explain that you’re a breast cancer survivor.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
A healthy diet is one of several factors that can affect the immune system and overall well-being. National Cancer Institute guidelines for cancer prevention can be used to decrease the chance of a breast cancer recurrence. These guidelines include:
Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Decrease fat intake to less than 30% of calories.
Minimize intake of cured, pickled, and smoked foods.
Alcohol consumption should be done in moderation, if at all.
Feeding your body the right nutrients also pays off for your mind as well. Combined with exercise, healthy eating can provide more energy and help you sleep better. You may also feel like you can concentrate better. If you have questions about your diet, we recommend speaking to a professional to ensure you get the right nutrients for your body.
Remember, you are not alone. We understand that breast cancer can bring a mix of emotions. It's important that you allow yourself to feel and express your emotions. You may elect to join a support group, practice meditation, or speak with a professional therapist. If you need to speak to someone or are looking for resources in your community, please contact us.