Making positive choices about the way you live during cancer treatment can give your wellbeing a big boost and give your body the best chance of dealing with cancer. These are the kind of things it’s worth thinking about.
It’s important to be straight with your doctors and nurses if you smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs, because they can all have an impact on your treatment. And while we’re not here to lecture you, there are a lot of reasons to consider giving up drinking, smoking and or taking drugs.
Cancer and cancer treatments already mess with your body, hitting your energy levels and making you more likely to get infections. Drugs and alcohol only make things worse.
They can interfere with treatments like chemo and radiotherapy, make side effects worse and increase the risk of breathing problems and infections. They can mess with your head too.
If you do decide now would be a good time to try a quit, talk to your medical team. They can give you information about organisations to contact for support.
When it comes to food and cancer, the theory is simple. Eat a healthy, varied diet to give your body plenty of energy. The reality, though, is not always that easy. Treatments can make you lose weight, gain weight or feel sick.
Whatever your experience, try not to let food get you down. If you can – and as long as you’ve not been told to follow a strict diet during treatment – try and eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, quality proteins (like beans, eggs, fish and meat) and carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, carbohydrates and rice).
But don’t worry if there are times when you can’t face food. It might help to wait for a few hours then try and eat again. Eating small, frequent meals can help, and so can avoiding strong-smelling food. You’ll find more advice on eating well in our section on side effects too.
If you’re feeling wiped out during treatment, it’s important to listen to your body. But on the days you feel better, being active can help you feel better about yourself, increase your energy levels, boost self-esteem and reduce the risk of other health issues.
Try and set yourself achievable targets. That could mean:
A walk around the park
A few squats or stretches
Going swimming with friends (check this is OK with your care team first)
A bike ride
A gentle exercise class
Having cancer doesn’t stop you getting or keeping a driving licence, but it’s up to the Driver and Vehicle and Licence Agency (DVLA) to decide whether you’re fit to drive. You need to tell them you have cancer if:
You develop problems with your brain or nervous system
Your doctor is worried about your fitness to drive
You’re restricted to certain types of vehicles or adapted vehicles
Your medication causes side effects that could affect your driving.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell the DVLA about a medical condition that could affect your driving. You also need to tell your insurance company about a cancer diagnosis as soon as possible.
If you’re looking for a calmer lifestyle during cancer treatment, you might find it helps to learn more about mindfulness. It’s a technique that’s involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the moment – in your mind, in your body and in your surroundings.
Mindfulness is designed to help you become more self-aware and less stressed. It can be a useful way to cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts, because it helps you choose how to respond to the way you’re feeling.
Your care team will be able to let you know about mindfulness resources and groups that could be useful.