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Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness for Those with Cancer

by Scott Sanders

 

Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States and across the world. Data from 2010-2012 revealed that 39.6 percent of men and women will have a cancer diagnosis at some point during their lifetimes -- that’s four out of ten American adults. If you do get cancer, seek medical assistance from an oncologist and follow a treatment plan. However, there are also steps that you can take to care for yourself through your illness.

Addiction Prevention                                                                                                                                              

People who are diagnosed with cancer not only have to wrestle with its physical symptoms, but they also often combat prescription opioid addiction, as well. These prescriptions might include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that the nationwide cost from abusing prescription opioids could be as high as $78.5 billion. Take some precautions whenever you’re prescribed medicine. Talk to your doctor to make sure the dosage is safe and appropriate for your condition. Then have the same conversation with your pharmacist. Finally, if you ever feel sedated, as if you’re drifting through a fog, stop taking it and consult your oncologist.

Sleeping

People with cancer often say they don’t sleep well for a variety of reasons. Many medications keep you up at night. Plus, you’re wrestling with nausea, chronic pain, and frequently going to the bathroom. As such, it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Take your medication on time every day. Unplug your iPad or iPhone, limit how much TV you watch, and give yourself permission to relax. Cut down on your sugar, alcohol, and nicotine intake, and go cold turkey on non-prescription drugs. If it helps, listen to classical music. Try to follow bedtime patterns that help you drift off, such as putting on a face mask, opening a window in the spring, or keeping a noise-machine going.

Eating

Proper nutrition is essential for everyone, but perhaps more so for people with cancer. Eating right stabilizes your metabolism, makes you feel stronger and more energetic, and reduces your risk of coming down with infections. So if you were mostly foraging on fast food and soda, switch up your diet. Fruits and veggies are a must. Go for proteins like nuts, eggs, low-fat yogurt, and lean meats like chicken and omega-3 fatty fish. Slash carbs, but don’t avoid whole grains found in flour, breads, and cereals. And, of course, drink water. Lots of water. About 60 percent of the human body is water, so it’s vital to keep replenishing it.

The Spiritual Side

For effective cancer treatment, nothing replaces going to the hospital and consulting with an oncologist. However, spiritual treatment also exists for cancer patients who want to focus on holistic healing rather than only attending to their physical symptoms. People who are given a cancer diagnosis confront their own mortality, and they often turn to spirituality for meaning. Spiritual treatment can help ease feelings of anger, anxiety, isolation, or hopelessness and lower your risk of committing or considering suicide. This is not a clinical or empirically tested treatment, but if it gives you a sense of inner peace, there’s no reason you shouldn’t explore it.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, seek the expertise of an oncologist as soon as you can. Keep in mind that you are more than just your physical symptoms, so make sure you’re treating yourself right. Drink enough water. Sleep eight hours a night. Cut all the toxins and impurities out of your diet. You’ll feel better, which may help you recover faster.

 

Scott Sanders is the  Author and Creator of cancerwell.org

Image via Unsplash