When it comes to dealing with a new cancer diagnosis or long-time cancer survival, patients can empower themselves by gathering knowledge, living healthily, and getting support, suggests Thomas P. O’Connor Jr., M.D., a physician in Beverly, Mass., in a column he wrote for the local newspaper there.
O’Connor tells readers, “you’ll want top-quality medical care, but you also need care that focuses on you as a whole person, with particular concern for your emotional, psychological, and social needs.”
He encourages cancer patients to empower themselves “by gathering information through a wealth of resources: literature, web sites, and numerous support services.”
O’Connor offers these guidelines to help cancer patients and survivors feel and look better. Following them could also possibly help prevent cancer in the future, he says.
· Watch your weight and diet. If you’re overweight, consider that even a 5 to 10 percent weight loss can make a difference. Discuss your ideal Body Mass Index with your doctor. BMI is a number based on a person’s weight and height that provides an indication of body fat for most people. It’s used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.
· Adopt a high-fiber diet. Fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, carrots and blueberries, contain higher levels of nutrients and are natural cancer fighters.
· Limit your intake of red meat. Try not to exceed three to four ounces of red meat a few times a week. Eat more fish, poultry and legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas and lentils.
· Reduce your salt intake. Too much can increase blood pressure and the risk for heart attack and stroke.
· Try to avoid fast food. Most of it has high amounts of salt and unhealthy fats.
· Exercise. Regular exercise will reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer and perhaps other cancers as well. Try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.
To read O’Connor’s complete column, see the Beverly Citizen online.