1. Get a second opinion at a research hospital
It is difficult for any one doctor or regional facility to be completely informed about the latest treatments and clinical trials. Getting multiple points of view improves the likelihood that you will have the best treatment plan possible. Cancer research hospitals typically cost the same as regional hospitals (and often have better financial assistance), and many health insurance providers require a second opinion when it comes to a cancer diagnosis.
- Research, research, research your specific cancer. Understand exactly what you have, the latest treatments and clinical trials.
- Cancer research hospitals are on the cutting-edge of treatments, technologies, and have the most data and visibility to treat the disease.
- An Oncologist-Specialist focuses on specific cancer; find one who will know the best ways to treat your cancer.
2. Understand Your Medical Treatment Plan.
Every cancer treatment plan is different, but most have a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and medication.
- Understand what’s involved in your program, what the goals are, and what to expect. Knowing will be key to your treatment and your experience.
3. Set Yourself up for Success: Mental-Emotional Care.
Cancer is a mental journey, not just a physical one. Approach cancer treatment with a whole-person lens.
- Talk with friends and family. Read tips from survivors. Start a private cancer journal. Maybe speak to a cancer therapist.
- Realize that this can get tough at times - be prepared and voice what you need in terms of support.
4. Create a Care Plan.
Outline what your treatment entails and where you will need help (and yes, you will need help). Addressing needs before they arise will keep additional stress at bay. Your loved ones are desperate to help – let them.
- Home: who will drive you to appointments? Help with children? Drop off meals? Handle your daily tasks on your appointment days?
- Work: how will your time off be managed? Do you need HR to help you apply for benefits or disability?
- Ask your hospital to assign a Health Navigator or Healthcare Advocate to deal with insurance and appointment scheduling
5. Tap Survivors for Tips and What to Expect.
Cancer survivors provide the first-hand knowledge and experience that no one else can. It is incredibly helpful to hear what worked for them, what was easier or harder than expected, and how to navigate this challenging time.
- Familiarize yourself with accounts from those who have been there.
6. Set Yourself Up for Success: Products that Help.
Products proven to relieve common treatment side effects will make a world of difference to your comfort and experience.
- Don’t chase symptoms, prevent them. Use helpful products before issues arise.
- Stock plenty of must-have products so they’re on-hand during treatment.
- Set up online subscriptions or give loved ones the task of managing your regular shopping list.
7. Consider Integrative Medicine to Supplement Care.
Consider an Integrative Naturopathic Specilaist in addition to your medical team. Your medical team will kill cancer cells, but there is a great deal happening to the body that often goes unaddressed.
- A Integrative Specialist can provide additional testing, supplements, and integrative immune support during your Standard of Care treatment plan.
- Remember: always share everything you’re exploring with your doctor.
8. Consider a Ketogenic Diet.
Try to remove sugar, alcohol, and “empty” foods. When a body is fighting cancer, processing heavy-duty medications, and undergoing treatment, it needs to be nourished and supported with the best “fuel” possible.
- Think beyond just getting calories to what the foods you’re consuming provide in terms of nutrients and value to your body.
- Cane and refined sugars, sweets, alcohol, and highly-processed foods feed harmful cells and provide little to no value to our bodies.
- Focusing on nutritious, fresh food means you’re doing all you can to support your healing and a cancer-free lifestyle.
9. Simplify Nutrition with a Meal Delivery Service.
Cooking and eating can become a chore during cancer treatment - especially when you’re trying to eat healthy when you’re not feeling 100%.
- A meal delivery service is a great way to remove stress and to keep you consuming healthy foods with zero thinking, prep, or shopping.
10. Consider a Cancer Nutritionist.
There is mounting evidence that what we fuel our bodies with (specifically our immune systems) has an impact when it comes to cancer.
- Speak with a Cancer Nutritionist to help you understand the food your body needs right now, and how to eat for longevity and health after treatment.
- Explore supplements to boost your immunity and any vitamin or mineral deficiencies during treatment - always consult your doctor.
11. Evaluate Which Supplements to Take.
After a cancer diagnosis it's critical to understand where you body needs help. Supplements can boost your immunity (critical during treatment and to help prevent recurrence), and help bolster important vitamins and minerals that cancer medication and treatment can zap. It is critical that you discuss all supplements with you medical team.
12. Prioritize and Protect Sleep & Rest.
Proper sleep hygiene during cancer treatment is paramount! Sleep is the only time our bodies and immune systems can fully focus on repairing themselves.
- Ensure you are getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night and nap frequently.
- Invest in natural and everyday products that can help protect the quality of sleep you get.
13. Move Every Day.
Gentle exercise is key. Simply moving your body reminds it that you are living and fighting. Exercise on cancer treatment is not about your weight or physique. A growing amount of research shows that regular exercise can greatly improve physical and mental health during every phase of treatment.
- On tougher days, take it easy with gentle stretching and light weights while seated.
- When you’re having better days, go for a walk with someone. Even walking 10-20 minutes can help.
14. Explore Supplemental Care: Body Support
Alternative modalities like massage, sauna, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and acupuncture provide relief for the fighting body. Gentle techniques can greatly improve how your body handles treatment.
15. Make a Spiritual Practice Part of Everyday Life.
Studies prove that those with a spiritual practice do better in treatment. Taking time to acknowledge and nurture your soul on your journey is paramount to your healing and recovery.
- "Spirituality" can mean traditional religious practices, personal reflection, time in nature, meditation, or a daily gratitude practice.
- If spirituality is new or uncomfortable to you, start with simple things that remind you that you are alive and connected to the world around you.
16. Explore Supplemental Care: Spiritual Support.
Alternative modalities like meditation, reiki, guided imagery, and compassion practices can do a great deal for someone carrying the weight of a cancer diagnosis. Explore how to relieve and repair the spirit with complementary practices.
17. Reduce Toxic & Negative Situations and Content.
Your top focus should be on completing cancer treatment, overall wellbeing, a positive mindset, and surrounding yourself with a supportive group. Create some boundaries to protect yourself if needed.
- Keep in the right frame of mind by trying to eliminate negative or dark movies, television, and music.
- Surround yourself with people who are committed to supporting you. Make less space for combative and negative personalities as best you can.
18. Create a Mantra and Live By It.
The mind is a powerful thing. Tap into your fortitude and will to survive with a statement that assures you and guides you through treatment - and believe it! Create your own mantra or use some from cancer survivors:
- I am healthy. I am strong. I am healed.
- Pain and discomfort are temporary.
- I have the power to heal.
- This will be behind me.
19. Consider a Cancer Therapist.
Consider a Cancer Therapist. There are therapists who specialize in cancer, and family dynamics during and after cancer. Some are even survivors themselves.
- Hearing from experts who counsel people through cancer every day is reassuring and can help give you tools and perspectives to stay strong and focused - and avoid common pitfalls.
- Many therapists offer virtual online sessions – some even allow you to remain anonymous.
20. Explore Supplemental Care: Mental Support.
Alternative modalities like sound healing, guided meditations, hypnotherapy, and listening to soothing music can help relax and focus the mind.
21. Get Creative.
Tapping into your senses and creativity can positively impact your mental state and overall health.
- Activate the creative portions of your brain by writing in a cancer journal, doing artwork, working a photo project, listening to your favorite music, crafting, dancing, or manifesting how your life will look after treatment.
- Use this time to focus on the little joys in life. Spend time on your passions - and explore new ones.
22. Keep Up The Good Work.
You’ve been eating healthy, moving, getting proper sleep and staying focused on beating cancer. Don’t stop now! Remaining cancer free is a lifetime commitment to your health.
- Remember: don’t wait to be sick to get healthy. What can you keep doing to give you the best quality life and greatest chance at longevity?
- Keep supporting your immune system with a healthy diet, sleep and exercise.
- Does it feel good that your life has become simplified and focused? Make a commitment to your mind-body-spirit health by continuing to practice what’s worked for you.
23. Stay on Track With Your Medical Protocol.
Even after treatment, you’ll want to make sure you’re following medical advice to a T.
- If you’re on a medication protocol, stay committed to it. If regular blood work, stability scans, or office visits are recommended, keep doing them.
- It may be tempting to just “move on” from the overload of appointments, pills, and pokes - but staying cancer free is never really “done.” Stay diligent!
24. Reflect, Be Honest, and Talk If You Need To.
There’s nothing like a major life event to give you clarity. Cancer therapists often say that relationship strain doesn’t happen until after treatment is over. Once everyone is out of “emergency mode” they may reflect and see things they wish they hadn’t. Cancer may change how you see people, situations, and how you live your everyday life.
- Take this time to reevaluate what you want in your next chapter. Listen to yourself and process what you’ve learned.
- If you're struggling, don’t ignore these feelings – talk them out. Go solo, as a couple, or as a family to cancer therapy.
- Join a cancer recovery group and discuss these common but challenging feelings.
- Pick and choose people, situations, and a lifestyle that best supports this fresh and healthy version of yourself.
25. Celebrate Your Second Chance by Giving Back.
There’s nothing that can pull you through cancer treatment like the inspiration of those that have gone before you. It’s time to pay it forward! Give people hope that one day they will be on the other side of cancer, just like you, helping others.
- Contribute Survivor Story
- Contribute an Advice article
- Volunteer at cancer support group at your treatment facility if you feel mentally strong enough to do so.
- Give back – find a cancer charity