Advanced Colorectal Cancer

Healthy Lifestyle

Living a healthy physical and emotional lifestyle is essential both during and after advanced colorectal cancer treatment. Not only is it important to keep your follow-up visits with your oncologists and primary health care provider, but it is also important to maintain good nutrition, be as active as you can, get enough rest and be emotionally healthy. Taking these actions can help you feel better both physically and psychologically, allowing you to better cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with advanced colorectal cancer.

Maintain good nutrition

It’s important to make healthy choices when it comes to nutrition before, during and after treatment. This can be a challenge if you have side effects such as loss of appetite or nausea and vomiting. But a healthy diet rich in protein can help you gain strength, which is especially needed during treatment cycles. In general, try to eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and drink plenty of liquids. Because some cancer treatments can cause loss of bone mass and more than 80 percent of people with Stage IV colorectal cancer have insufficient levels of vitamin D, it’s helpful to eat dairy foods and other foods high in calcium and vitamin D. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about the need for calcium and vitamin D, either in your diet or as supplements.

Be active

Participating in physical activities or regular exercise can help you feel better overall. Although it may not seem to make sense, physical exercise is actually the best treatment for fatigue. Studies have shown that people with cancer who exercise regularly feel less tired and have more energy. Think about what physical activity you enjoy most and engage in it daily, as often as you can tolerate it. Try to modify your favorite form of exercise if you experience any pain or discomfort, rather than discontinuing it.

Get enough rest

Sleep disturbances are common among people with cancer. One reason is that fatigue related to cancer and its treatment leads people to take frequent naps during the day, which then makes it difficult to sleep at night. You can still set aside time in your day to rest or take naps, but limit them to 20 to 30 minutes each, and avoid napping in the late afternoon or early evening. Your doctor may review the medications you are taking and change them if he or she thinks that drug interactions or side effects are contributing to your sleep problems. Your doctor may also recommend a medication to help you sleep.

Stay emotionally healthy

A cancer diagnosis can cause significant emotional reactions. Allowing yourself to freely express your emotions is vital to remaining emotionally healthy. To strengthen your coping abilities, discover ways to reduce and manage your stress. Some possibilities include meditation, guided imagery, muscle relaxation and yoga. Ordinary “escapes,” like reading, television and games can also help you relax. In addition, you must be alert to depression and seek help if you’re experiencing a depressed mood and a loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities. Lastly, work to maintain strong relationships with friends and family members, and consider participating in a support group. Both activities can go a long way toward staying emotionally healthy.

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