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two people crossing a bridge | improve quality of life in cancer patients | a blog post by CARTI

After receiving a cancer diagnosis, we experience a multitude of life changes. Some are more readily accepted, such as the chance for self-reflection or more time spent with the ones we love. In other cases, embracing the shifts that often accompany cancer takes time, particularly if they affect our participation in or enjoyment of daily activities.

As any patient can attest, adjusting to life with cancer comes with challenges. Dr. Derek Middleton, a medical oncologist with CARTI, says there are proactive ways to move beyond the coping process and improve the quality of life in cancer patients. Along with listening to our bodies, Dr. Middleton recommends following five simple steps:

Keep moving: Exercise has been shown to expedite recovery, alleviate treatment side effects, and deliver mental health benefits, such as anxiety relief. When in doubt, start slowly with low-impact options, such as light walking or resistance bands. The goal is to maintain mobility and muscle.

Eat to feel good: Maintaining a healthy diet helps the body function better. That said, the hyperfocus on eating clean, especially when someone is feeling poorly, can cause unneeded stress. If issues arise, opt for smaller, more frequent meals and snacks to ensure adequate nutrition.

Accept rest: While regular, daily movement is encouraged, downtime is too, and there should be a balance of both. Rest and recovery can lead to a quicker rebound. It’s important not to overdo it and to acknowledge that taking it easy after treatment is needed.

Lean into support: Depending on beliefs and preferences, look to existing networks for support, whether family and friends, church, sports league or book club. Prioritize habits that promote peace and comfort, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or restorative yoga.

Reframe thoughts: Post diagnosis, cancer takes center stage, often dictating or dominating decision-making. Press reset on the cancer-only mentality by setting goals, big or small. It’s a valuable tool for changing perspective and looking forward.

For nearly 50 years, CARTI has provided comprehensive support services to improve the quality of life in cancer patients. With The Bridge, CARTI will offer even more accessible, free programs and support groups to help ease the cancer journey. To learn more or sign up for available services, click here.