When you or someone you love is battling cancer, the importance of personal care can get lost in the fight. The truth is, wellness can and should play a significant role during treatment, after treatment, and during every phase of long-term maintenance or post-cancer life.
Critical elements of wellness include, but aren’t limited to: treatment of anxiety and depression; fostering a feeling of hope and positivity, and maintaining health-sustaining body weight by focusing on nutrition, exercise levels, and lifestyle improvement that are at the foundation of wellness.
Wise Words, Wise Ways
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said, “the natural force in each one of is the greatest force in getting well.” Considering the recent advancements in immunotherapy in cancer treatments, the wisdom behind Hippocrates’ statement is as valid now as it was when he said it over 2,000 years ago.
This ancient wisdom and a robust, modern wellness program can also shape our paths in reducing the risks of developing new forms of cancer, decreasing the chances of recurrence, and, most importantly, increasing survival rates to improve patients’ quality of life.
At the Judi and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness, we provide entire wellness teams committed to helping patients and their families during treatment and after when the focus shifts to engaging in the activities that lead to a well-balanced, healthy, and vibrant life.
Mental Health in Personal Care Matters
But, before any of this wellness maintenance begins, let’s address the green gorilla in the exam room: the anxiety and depression that come from a cancer diagnosis for both patients and their support systems.
It’s crucial to recognize that these feelings are natural, understandable, and entirely treatable.
Research shows that one in four patients experiences an episode of depression during treatment. Helping patients know they are not alone and providing them with the mental health experts, counseling, and, as needed, medication, can help alleviate these episodes. For those with religious beliefs or who believe in a higher power, spiritual assistance can provide additional support during these times of extreme stress to the body and mind. The spiritual aspect of treatment can often be dismissed or overlooked, but research is showing this, too, plays an essential role in recovery.
What about a patient’s caregivers and family members?
Cancer can take a heavy toll on those caring for an afflicted family member, loved one, or close friend. A proper wellness program should also offer support for those who play this crucial role in treatment. Helpful options include support groups, relief caregivers, and peaceful, healing waiting areas and environments for caregivers during hospital visits. Spiritual advisors can also play a crucial role for these caregivers, providing guidance and hope. While caregiving often requires the ability to love selflessly, not expecting anything in return, it doesn’t mean the stress and depression associated with this obligation should be ignored, including the need for breaks from these emotionally burdensome responsibilities.
Like any goal, wellness during and after cancer treatment is best achieved with a plan. Along with your treatment visits and follow-ups, a wellness plan can help you regain or build strength and build endurance while better managing side effects such as fatigue, weight loss or gain, sleep and concentration problems, stress and anxiety, and reducing the risk of recurrence or other health problems.
Plan For Wellness
So, what’s the plan? That varies by patient, patient age, type of cancer, and personal goals. At the Judi and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness, our team of wellness, nutrition, exercise, and mental health experts works to create a wellness plan that not only meets your goals, but it is designed with reachable, realistic milestones that encourage you to continue on the path of better health physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Last but certainly not least are a cancer patient’s connection with nature and other human beings. According to leading researchers, humans are hardwired to connect with the natural world and other living organisms. Cut off these connections, and you disconnect yourself from the life forces that can encourage and enhance healing.
Similar to wellness goals, maintaining these connections doesn’t have to be daunting. Short walks in nature, joining a support group, or just reaching out to friends or a counselor when in need can make a huge difference in your journey.
If there’s anything the Judi and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness can do to aid in your wellness journey, whether you’re a patient, caregiver, or even a patient at another facility, please reach out to us by emailing the institute here. We’re also available to chat on social media if you need someone to lean on.