These tips are beneficial for anyone regardless of recovering from cancer or not:
“It’s not enough to help a patient through the management of pain, sleep deprivation and cognitive challenges as a result of treatment,” said Arash Asher, MD, director of the Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. He views his role as supporting patients through the entire spectrum of cancer — from diagnosis to survivorship — and the many hurdles in between. “Our approach is to help each patient find meaning through the journey they’ve been given and provide tactical ways to improve their chance at survivorship and overall quality of life.”
To mark National Cancer Survivors Day on June 2, Asher put together his top three tips for cancer survivorship:
1. Avoid social isolation and chronic loneliness Chronic loneliness can change a patient’s biological makeup, possibly increasing the chance of recurrence as well as higher death rates, Asher said. In fact, according to Asher, chronic loneliness is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes and more dangerous than physical inactivity or obesity. If patients surround themselves with positive and supportive friends and relatives, however, they can increase their longevity and quality of life, Asher said.
2. Tailored, moderate exercise Exercise offers a myriad of benefits to any individual, but may be even more valuable to cancer patients and survivors, Asher said. Unfortunately, fewer than 50 percent of cancer survivors achieve their pre-cancer level of exercise, and many patients never talk about physical activity with their physicians. At the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, exercise specialists design workouts formulated for each patient’s abilities. Asher suggests that just like the benefits of a support system, exercise may improve the quality and quantity of life.
3. Get enough sleep Americans often view sleep as a luxury and rest is one of the first things to be sacrificed if time doesn’t permit. Asher said that not getting enough sleep has serious consequences, including chronic illness and possibly an increased risk in cancer. Multiple studies have found that nightshift workers have a higher percentage of breast, colon and prostate cancer, as well as cognitive issues, and a higher risk of obesity and physical limitations. Half of all cancer survivors have some form of insomnia. The Cedars-Sinai Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program works with these survivors to determine the cause of insomnia and then takes tactical steps toward managing these issues.