Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Staying healthy all year round

I try to stay healthy all year round.  Cancer survivors have to.  It isn't easy.  I play hockey for 6 months out of the year and bike the other half, and try to get a workout in at the gym when I can.  That is what I do. 

Now I don't recommend hockey for everyone, especially if you are in treatment, but I have some advice for fellow survivors, and well, everyone to stay healthy all year round.

First of all listen to your doctor, if you don't have one, find a good one, this is a great resource for finding doctors in your area.
If you don't like your current doctor, find another one, remember they work for you, not the other way around.

Once your doctor is ok with you doing exercise then find exercise that you enjoy and if you can find someone to exercise with!

When we think of exercise it doesn't have to be in the gym doing a gazillion reps with dumbells or training for a half marathon, it can be as simple as walking.

When I was going through radiation my radiation oncologist said walking for at least 30 minutes a day would cut down on fatigue and help me get through it a lot better, and he was right!

I like to use an fitness bracelet to track my steps.  I use the jawbone, some people use fitbit. ( I am not a paid endorsee of either product)  if you are not a tech junkie like me a pedometer is less expensive and will get the job done just as easily.

If it is walking or bike riding or a similar activity where you will be by yourself make sure you tell someone your route and have your phone charged up.  Fatigue is one of the top issues for cancer survivors and patients and it is always  good to have your friends know where you are going to be if you get tired, get a flat or get stuck in an unexpected rainstorm.

You can always get into a team sport that you love, like I do such as hockey, and get a friend into it too.  There is nothing better than talking about the teams victories or defeats after the game.

Now that we all agreed exercise is important, we have to talk about what you are going to eat.  Open up your cupboards and look at what you have in there.  I have junk food too.  As survivors we have to try to eat healthier than others to stay healthy, and encourage others in our family and circle of friends to do so as well.

I am not saying go out and toss out your favorite box of twinkies or doritos or other indulgence, just less of the snack foods (Twinkies photo copywrite Hostess Cupcake)

Find a nutritionist in your area, get a good cookbook for cancer survivors, order a big healthy salad and investigate your options. Find foods you like to eat.  Not everyone goes for the Kale chips (Yuck!)  as part of their everyday diet.  The main thing is is get rid of the processed food,  don't be afraid of cooking your own meals, buying local produce and if you are leery, take a cooking class, or find a recipe that looks tasty and try it, if you don't like it, try something else, ask other survivors, they may have some good recipes or suggestions.  Your diet doesn't have to be all skinless chicken and steamed broccoli.  Once again check with your doctor if you can't find any options.

Now that we are eating well and exercising what is the most important thing we have to do.  It happens once a year.

You guessed it. Your physical.

No one likes going to the doctor.

Anyone who tells you they do is lying, and anyone who says they don't have time to go is just fooling themselves.

When I was diagnosed I felt perfectly fine and was in the best physical shape of my life then my life got interrupted.  However, I am fortunate that I did have my physical and then mammogram(s) and  biopsies  that detected my cancer.

Not everyone gets a mammogram and biopsy on the same date.  It is completely normal to have them scheduled on a different day.  Here is a great infographic by my friends at Amino to show how often this happens.  Try not to stress out if you have to have a biopsy.  Stress is bad for the body and worrying does nothing but make you forget about the good stuff in your life 

You may think, well I am too young to have a mammogram.  Government guidelines are changing all the time so depending upon your family history and genetics you might need one, or even ask for one (this is the part where your doctor works for you, remember that.)

I was 37 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that shocked all of my doctors that I had breast cancer at a young age.  Women get mammograms at different ages in their lives.  Here is another handy infographic to show you this (thanks again Amino!!)

Anyone who has breasts can get breast cancer, including men!

So we have established you are exercising, eating healthy, and seeing your doctor.

Don't forget about your self exams.  You know you better than anyone, so if you feel something weird or a lump or anything see your doctor.  No one has come out of seeing their doc's office happy that they have something, they come out happy that they are healthy.

I will leave you with this final thought.

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jimrohn147499
Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jimrohn147499
Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live ~ Jim Rohn


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com available on demand, on iTunes, IHeart radio, the podcast app on your iPhone and on stitcher.