Living better after cancer

Exercise, which research suggests is safe during cancer treatment, can also improve a patient's physical function and quality of life. Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue and anxiety, and improve self-esteem.
PHOTO: Living better after cancer

SINGAPORE - For someone going through cancer treatment or a cancer survivor, living a healthy life may take on more meaning as it could lower the chances of the disease recurring.

It is still about having adequate exercise, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol.

For cancer patients and survivors, these strategies have added benefits.

For example, exercise, which research suggests is safe during cancer treatment, can also improve a patient's physical function and quality of life. Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue and anxiety, and improve self-esteem.

When it comes to choosing what to eat, the American Cancer Society recommends eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins that are low in saturated fat, such as fish, lean meat, eggs and nuts, every day.

But going through cancer and beating it can be physically and emotionally draining. It's not just about ticking the right boxes on lifestyle choices after the treatment ends.

Four in 10 people who have had cancer say they have a significant level of anxiety or depression even after treatment. For them, art therapy or joining support groups to share with others about what they are going through can help them in a way medication may not.

There are now more organised activities here for cancer patients and survivors to get involved in, such as yoga or cooking.

It's all about finding that internal balance and sense of well-being after a brush with cancer.

wanching@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on July 31, 2014. Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.