Once you or a loved one has received a diagnosis for a life threatening illness life is never the same. You find yourself measuring time by “before the diagnosis” and “after the diagnosis.” Is it possible to make choices that can improve the quality of your life? Today we have a guest post by Faith Franz of The Mesothemlioma Center, who shares some tips on making the most of life after the diagnosis.
How to Make the Most of Life When Diagnosed with Cancer
A cancer diagnosis will change your life – and your family’s. There’s no way around it. But with a positive mentality and a creative approach, you can keep the cancer from taking over your life. Whether your diagnosis is curable or terminal, here are some tips for making the most of the post-diagnosis journey.
Stay active. Cancer patients who remain physically active typically have a higher quality of life than patients who forego exercise. In one Mayo Clinic study of long-term lung cancer survivors, patients whose physical activity increased after diagnosis also reported increases in mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of life. In contrast, quality of life decreased in patients whose activity levels dropped after diagnosis.
Cancer-related fatigue may make exercise seem daunting, but there’s no need to overexert your body to get the benefits. Ideal options include:
- Walking (on a trail, the beach or even a shopping mall)
- Gentle yoga
- Tai Chi
- Playing with a young family member at a local park
Try any of these for just 30 minutes per day, three to five days per week to reap the benefits.
Stop procrastinating. What things have you told yourself that you’ll do “someday?” See the Northern Lights? Take your family on a vacation? Whatever you’ve placed on your bucket list, take this opportunity to finally make it happen. When you can, include your loved ones in the process.
Find a treatment team that understands your goals. Do you prefer to avoid toxic pharmaceuticals? Want to go ahead with curative therapies, even if there’s a slim chance of them causing remission? Be up-front with your oncologists, and choose an experienced team whose approach aligns with what you want to get out of treatment.
Stay connected. This is without a doubt a difficult time in your life. Especially if you’ve been diagnosed with a rare cancer such as peritoneal mesothelioma cancer, you may feel isolated. However, remember that your loved ones are a critical support system. Not sure that you want to share your health worries with them? Consider a cancer patient support group to connect with others who are living through a similar situation.
Keep looking for cures. While it’s always helpful to have a realistic understanding of your prognosis, it’s key to remember that the life expectancy is just an estimate. With so many cancer patients responding positively to new therapies, there’s no reason you can’t be one of the patients who outlives their prognosis by months or even years.
In 2010, the National Cancer Institute spent $5.1 billion on research. Talk to your doctor about joining one of their clinical trials – there’s always a chance that their newest project may give your body just what it needs.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.
National Cancer Institute: Cancer Research Funding. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/research-funding
Solberg, N. “Physical activity level and quality of life in long term lung cancer survivors.” Lung Cancer. (2012): Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22681871