Living with Cancer

From the National Cancer Institute's "Facing Forward," here are some helpful ideas on:

Coping with Fatigue

  • Plan your day. Be active at the time of day when you feel most alert and energetic.
  • Save your energy by changing how you do things. For example, sit on a stool while you cook or wash dishes.
  • Take short naps or rest breaks between activities.
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Let others help you. They might cook a meal, run errands, or do the laundry. If no one offers, do not be afraid to ask for what you need. Friends and family might be willing to help but may not know what to do.
  • Choose how to spend your energy. Try to let go of things that don't matter as much.
  • Click here to read more information about fatigue; causes, factors, treatments and other helpful tips.

Improving Memory and Concentration

  • Jot it down. Keep a notebook or pocket calendar handy. Write down appointments and tasks. Keep it simple and realistic.
  • Set up reminders. Put small signs around the house to remind you of things to do.
  • Talk yourself through tasks. When doing a task with a number of steps, such as cooking or working on a computer, whisper each step to yourself.
  • Manage stress. Managing stress better may improve your memory and attention. Learning how to relax will keep you calm even in stressful moments.
  • Repeat what you want to remember. Saying it a couple of times can help your mind hold on to the information.

Feelings of Stress or Anxiety

  • Exercise. Talk to your physician about developing an exercise plan. Be careful not to overdo it. Exercise is a known way to reduce stress and feel less tense. A little fresh air goes a long way.
  • Mind-body methods. Practices of meditation or relaxation may help you lower stress by quieting your mind. Try focusing on your breathing or repeating words or phrases to yourself. Other methods include hypnois, yoga, healing touch, or imagery.
  • Creative outlets. Art, music, writing, or dance gives people the chance to express themselves in different ways. Even people who have never danced, painted, or drawn before have found these activities helpful and fun.
  • Sharing personal stories. Telling and hearing stories about living with cancer can help people air their concerns, solve problems, and find meaning in what they've been through. Think about joining a support group to talk with people in similar circumstances.
  • Massage Therapy. Massage therapy can help relax your muscles as well as your mind. It can also help decrease side effects such as fatigue and nausea.
  • Finding Humor and Laughing. Cancer is not a laughing matter, but laughter can help you relax. When you laugh, your brain releases chemicals that produce pleasure and relax your muscles. Even a smile can fight off a stressful thought.
    • read funny cards
    • enjoy the funny things children and pets do
    • watch funny movies or TV shows
    • listen to a comedy tape or CD
    • buy a funny desk calendar
    • read or have someone read you a joke book
  • Click here to read more information about stress or anxiety; causes, factors, treatments and other helpful tips.

Coping with Depression

You may feel angry, tense, or sad. For some people, these emotions can become severe and get in the way of daily life. This is a medical condition called depression. Do not be afraid to talk with your physician or nurse about what you are feeling. Getting the help you need is important for you and your health. If you have any of the followign signs for more than 2 weeks, talk with your physician or nurse.

  • Feelings of worry, anxiety, or sadness that don't go away
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling overwhelmed, out of control, or shaky
  • Having a sense of guilt or feeling unworthy
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Feeling short-tempered or moody
  • Crying for long periods of time or many times each day
  • Finding it hard to enjoy everyday things, such as food or being with friends
  • Thinking of harming yourself.
  • Click here to read more about depression; causes, factors, treatments and other helpful tips.

Finding Meaning after Cancer Treatment

Other helpful topics

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