If you are going through treatment for childhood cancer, it is very important to attend all your appointments. It may feel like all you do is spend your time at the hospital, but your doctors and other health care providers carefully plan your treatment and follow-up to best treat your cancer. Once you are finished with treatment, it’s still very important to follow up with all your care providers. Childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of developing other medical issues. Regularly seeing your care providers will help prevent or manage these potential problems. It’s also very important to complete any recommended screening tests.
Physical activity is important for weight management, disease prevention, and heart health. It is recommended to get 150 minutes every week. The best way to do this is be physically active for 20-30 minutes every day. It doesn’t have to be going for a run or lifting weights at the gym. It can be anything that increases your heart rate. Try hiking, Frisbee™ golf, or dancing. Choose activities you enjoy. Check out the Centers for Disease Control’s Physical Activity site to learn more. Always consult with your care provider before starting a new physical activity program.
Eat a variety of foods that include lean meats, colorful vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. Limit processed and sugary foods. Making a healthy plate starts with the eyes—and choosing all the colors of the rainbow. The substances that give fruits and vegetables their bright color may protect us from cancer and other chronic diseases. Use the New American Plate from the American Institute of Cancer Research as your guide. To learn more, visit the AICR website.
Did you know that sleep is one of the most important parts of health? When you sleep, your body repairs any normal damage that happened during the day. If you do not sleep enough, or sleep poorly, you are at an increased risk of obesity, getting sick, and depression. During and even after cancer therapy, many patients feel very tired all the time. Talk with your doctor if you feel like you are tired or sleeping more than expected. Try to find a balance of rest and activity during treatment. Check out the CDC’s recommendations for sleep each day based on age.
Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health – and both can affect each other. Connect with other patients and families during and after treatment. It’s always best to talk with someone who understands your situation. Make sure you take time for yourself when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, such as reading a book, going for a walk, spending time with a pet, or meditating. Ask to speak to a psychologist, social worker, or chaplain if you need to discuss your emotional health. You may also benefit from regularly talking to a therapist or counselor about your experiences during and after treatment. Talk with your primary care provider to help decide the best treatment options.
If you can’t spend time with your loved ones in person, make sure you connect with them virtually. Technology today allows us to connect all over the world with apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp. Being social with friends and family improves mood and can have positive impacts on physical and mental health.
Technology is a great way to stay connected, learn, and work. But sometimes too much screen time can be harmful. It can lead to obesity, sleep problems, and other health issues. There’s no avoiding screen time in today’s world, but there are ways to avoid some of the problems that come with it. Try turning off the TV and staying off your phone an hour before bedtime so that your brain has time to “wind down”. Consider reading a book or meditating before falling asleep. Set limits on your social media apps.
Did you know it’s important to exercise your brain just like you exercise your body? Puzzles and games can not only be fun and pass the time while getting a chemotherapy treatment, but it can also help improve your memory and ability to think. Childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk for memory problems, thinking abilities, and problem solving. Computerized games (on a computer, phone, or tablet) can be helpful for improving brain health, particularly when they increase in difficulty. For extra brain health, find a game you can play with family or friends.
Reviewed: August 2020