Living With Cancer
1 AnswerUCLA Health answeredCancer survivors can ask for a cancer-survivorship care plan, which summarizes their treatment history and provides a recommendation for future care, such as when and by whom follow-up tests will be performed. At present, this is not a standard part of care, and as a result, there is a lot of confusion and waste. Some patients may see 10 to 15 doctors in the year after their cancer diagnosis when they really only need to see one or two. Our hope is that as electronic health records and other healthcare-reform initiatives become more widely implemented, coordinating care for cancer survivors will be easier and more efficient.
1 AnswerUCLA Health answeredRadiation can damage coronary arteries, so we need to aggressively manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and encourage patients to manage their weight in order to prevent them from developing accelerated heart disease. We can also treat sexual dysfunction associated with treatment for cancers near the pelvis (cervical, uterine, bladder, prostate), reduce the risk for osteoporosis and address early-onset menopause and infertility in female cancer survivors. Depression and fatigue can also be problematic. Patients don’t have to just grin and bear it. There are ways to manage symptoms that persist. We want to make sure patients and their doctors are aware of that.
When I ask patients ‘would you like a pill that causes less fatigue, decreased emotional distress, improved sleep, improved functional capacity, and better quality of life,’ patients will always reply with a ‘yes.’ That pill? It’s exercise.
Taking a short walk, getting out in the garden, taking a yoga class – no matter what activity it is, exercise is proven to reduce anxiety, promote healthy sleep patterns and an overall sense of well-being.
The American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes weekly of moderate exercise for cancer patients, including two days of strength training. While 150 minutes may not be realistic for everyone, we can make it a goal. Even if it’s 20 minutes to begin with, exercise has many benefits for cancer patients and non-cancer patients alike.
A physical therapist and/or a medical fitness specialist can help to design a program that takes into account your current limitations.Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
Cancer-related fatigue is hard to rate, as each patient is different. Patients should talk with their doctor to have a conversation about how the fatigue is affecting their daily lives and how long it lasts. Although many cancer survivors will describe their fatigue as something they can manage by resting, there are a significant number of people who say resting doesn’t make them feel any better, and it’s something that they can’t describe.
A physician may ask a cancer patient the following questions in order to better understand their level of fatigue:
- Does fatigue interfere with daily functioning?
- When did the fatigue start?
- How has it changed?
- Did it start in the beginning, middle or after treatment?
- Has it changed over time?
- Any associated alleviating factors?
- Does exercise help?
- Have you changed medications?
- What kind of support services are available?
- Is there availability of caregivers?
- Is there family support?
1 AnswerMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
Trying to force immune cells to work harder to fight cancer can have negative effects. In this Treadmill Talk, Sharecare expert Dr. Michael Roizen reveals a simple trick for helping immune cells do their job without exhausting them.
To combat feelings of hopelessness if you have cancer, give yourself a schedule to follow. The items on your schedule will help your healing process, and checking them off each day may give you a sense of satisfaction. Diet, exercise, doctor's appointments, entertainment, support group meetings, calls with friends, research, and massage therapy may all be on your schedule.
You can do the following types of exercise when recovering from cancer treatment:
Light/Moderate Exercise: Doctors recommend incorporating daily activities into your exercise program to keep building additional strength and stamina. Activities such as climbing stairs, walking, gardening, and playing with children can keep you active and reduce stress and fatigue. You should try to perform some of these activities in small sessions, such as for 5-10 minutes, six or seven days per week.
Moderate Exercise: Exercises that increase your heart rate such as brisk walking, swimming, or biking should be done gradually without causing any discomfort. Start with 5-minute sessions and slowly increase the time intervals when you feel comfortable. If you are currently receiving radiation treatments, be sure to check with your doctor before engaging in any water activities. Your doctor will determine if the treatment area is clear of burns or sores that could become irritated.
Moderate/Heavy Exercise: Once any fatigue has decreased and you have begun building up your strength, you may want to continue building your stamina. Combining treadmill use, bicycling, stair-climbing, and resistance training with tubing or lightweights will improve your muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular functions.
1 AnswerThe strength exercises below are to be performed after cancer treatment or a couple of weeks after cancer surgery:
- Cane Pull: Place a hand on each end of a cane and position the cane or yardstick behind your back, parallel to the floor. Pull the cane from side to side. Now place the cane behind your neck and pull from side to side.
- Back Dry: Grab each end of a towel and move your arms as if you were drying your back. Reverse your hand positions to make your other arm the higher one and repeat.
- Finger Walk: Stand facing a wall and place one hand on the wall about waist high. "Walk" your first two fingers up the wall as high as you can while inhaling. Walk your fingers back down the wall to the starting position while exhaling. Change hands and repeat the exercise. Repeat. This exercise can be done in a chair
1 AnswerThe days following cancer surgery, you can start your exercise program while in bed with some simple exercises. If something hurts, stop, and try a different exercise. Do only those exercises that are appropriate for your condition or that have been approved by your doctor.
- Hand Squeeze: Squeeze an exercise sponge ball or putty in your hand. Gently work your fingers on the ball or putty.
- Elbow Wings: Lie on your back (or sit up in your bed) and place your hands behind your head with your elbows flat against the bed. Slowly bring your elbows together in front of your face. Bring elbows back to the starting point.
- Wrist Curls: While in bed, turn your palms up, make a fist and curl your wrist up. Hold for a count of six and then relax.
- Shoulder Shrug: While sitting up in bed, relax your hands in your lap. Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and then slowly drop them down. Repeat.
1 AnswerThe following are exercises you can do while sitting in a chair after cancer surgery:
- Window Washing: While sitting in a chair, keep your elbows at your sides and bend your elbows, so your palms face forward. Make small circles inward with your hands, as if you are washing a window. Change direction.
- Elbow Raise: While sitting in a chair, raise both arms in front of you, palms up. Bend your elbows and rest your hands on your shoulders. Lower your arms slowly and then raise them again.
- Back Scratch: Hold your hands out to your sides. Slowly reach up behind your back to just under your shoulder blades, like you were going to scratch your back. Bring arms back to your sides. Repeat.
- Knee Touch: Sit up straight in a chair and place your left hand on your right knee. While inhaling, slowly lift your left hand and arm up as high as possible, keeping it near the right side of your body. Lower your hand back to your right knee while exhaling. Switch sides and repeat. Once you start to build strength, repeat this exercise while using light hand weights.
- Sideward Arm Raise: While sitting in a chair with your arms to your sides, slowly raise one arm sideward as high as you can. Be sure to keep inhaling slowly while lifting your arm. As you lower your arm, exhale slowly. Change arms and repeat exercise. Once you build up some strength, repeat this exercise while using light hand weights.