Natural Ways To Cope With A Cancer Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with cancer is never pleasant, whether that cancer is a rare one or a common one. I know this from first hand experience, having been diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2012. It shakes your foundation and shuffles your priorities.

It's important to approach any cancer diagnosis with information and optimism. Knowing natural ways to cope with cancer treatment and recovery is a big step in the right direction.

Rare Cancers vs. Common Cancers

A common cancer is typically one that has at least 40,000 cases diagnosed per year. Other than nonmelanoma skin cancers, breast cancer is by far the most diagnosed cancer in the United States. The next two most common cancers are lung cancer and prostate cancer. Most lung cancers are caused by chronic smoking. Cancers moving further up the list include colon and rectal cancer, melanoma skin cancer and bladder cancer. On the other hand, rare cancers are types that have less than six cases per 100,000 people per year. About one in five cancer cases are rare types, and roughly one in three people with rare cancers have a very rare one. One rare cancer is mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining around the lung. About 75 percent of mesothelioma cases are pleural. Although it's rare, mesothelioma is considered a very deadly cancer due to the fact that it's usually not diagnosed until it's in a late stage. This happened to my grandfather, who died within 3 weeks of diagnosis. He was only 53.

Nutrition For Cancer Recovery

During cancer treatment and recovery, it's important to get adequate nutrition and maintain a healthy weight. The side effects of certain cancer treatments can cause people to lose their appetites, which results in unintended weight loss. Too much weight loss puts stress on the body and causes malnourishment. Even people who are overweight at the start of cancer treatment should not allow themselves to lose drastic amounts of weight. A good diet during cancer treatment and recovery should include plenty of whole foods, organic foods and vitamin-rich foods. Foods to be avoided include processed food, sugar and overly salty foods. Doctors often recommend that patients eat several smaller meals throughout the day vs. three large meals. If meat is unappealing, then protein can be acquired through the consumption of eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, protein shakes or tofu. A high-quality daily multivitamin is also often recommended as a way to make up any nutrients not being gained adequately through food. In general, a plant-based diet is easier on the body during cancer recovery. Due to a weakened immune system, cancer patients should generally avoid eating raw or undercooked foods and minimize alcohol consumption.

Mind-Body Methods To Help Recovery

Mind-body support is essential to cancer treatment and recovery. It helps to balance a person's emotions, mental state and stress reactions. A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment can be a very difficult time for a person's emotions and mental state in particular. The negative feelings can quickly build up and lead to chronic stress, which then affects physical health and depletes the immune system. It's very important that cancer patients keep a balanced mental state. Some common mind-body methods employed during cancer treatment and recovery include:

- Animal-assisted therapy
- Music therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
- Biofeedback
- Journal writing
- Gentle yoga
- Relaxation techniques
- Spiritual support

Exercise is always recommended for cancer patients as it helps improve the mood and keep the body strong to continue coping with treatments.

Cancer takes a major toll on the body and mind. Finding ways to cope with the stress through proper diet, mindfulnessand exercise is an integral part of treatment and recovery.

 

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Dr. Skye works with patients from all walks of life to improve their vitality and vibrancy through personalized nutrition (not fad diets), and stress management (relaxation is a prerequisite for digestion and cellular repair.) She offers specialized testing to determine true heart and diabetes risk factors, hormone imbalances and uses natural medicines, nutrition, mind-body medicine, and biofeedback to bring the body back into Ease (vs. Dis-Ease) allowing our natural innate vitality to do its healing magic. She loves helping people discover the healing power of nature, their own nature, within their own bodies. Most diseases and pain cause us to want to escape the body. However, the journey to health is within the body, discovering its nature and supporting its vitality.

Author
Dr. Skye LaChute, ND, BCB Naturopathic Physician in Bellevue WA specializing in stress management and chronic conditions

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