Guest Blog Post by John Daniels
Cancer claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year and is one of the top causes of death. Mesothelioma is a rare, incurable form of the disease, in which 80% of the cases result by asbestos exposure.
But just because there’s no cure for the disease doesn’t mean people aren’t continuing to survive for years following diagnosis. While on average mesothelioma survivors are given 12-21 months to live, approximately 5-10% of those affected live for 5 or more years. Survival may even exceed 20 years.
The biggest obstacle to staying healthy as a mesothelioma patient is maintaining energy levels. Your body spends a lot of energy controlling the cancer growing inside. You need to keep your body strong, and here’s how to do it.
· Exercise regularly. Light exercise on a daily basis is the key to stopping your body from wasting away. Yoga, taking regular walks and weight training are three options for maintaining your fitness. Studies have already shown that there is a connection between decreasing your risk of getting cancer and exercise. I strongly believe that it can only help with your recovery process to also exercise while trying to recover from cancer. Not just prior to being diagnosed with it.
· Eat and drink right. What you eat will vastly determine exactly how high your energy levels are. Heavy foods, such as fast food, will make you feel more tired. Your body needs to spend energy in digesting that food over a few hours, without any real nutritional benefit. Rather, since you need to replenish your body’s energy levels, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. These are essential for your body when you’re suffering from cancer.
· Don’t be afraid to rest. For many cancer sufferers, they know they need to stay active to bolster their health. But there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you need to rest. Taking regular naps during the day is recommended by doctors to prevent exhaustion and slow the spread of cancer. Don’t be afraid to admit when you need to rest.
· Stay away from germs. The biggest threat for any mesothelioma sufferer is that they fall ill from an infection. Seasonal flu, for example, is nothing more than an inconvenience for the average person. But for the cancer sufferer, it could turn into a fatal illness. Remember that mesothelioma patients can’t be cured and their body is in an endless battle to protect itself. Falling ill is like opening up a second battlefield for your body. It’s often too much, especially since most mesothelioma sufferers are middle-aged to older people and the flu is already much more dangerous for those over 65. Rather, try to avoid germs. For example, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times and resist the urge to touch surfaces in public spaces. You should also make an extra effort to stay away from people who are already suffering from an illness, including minor illnesses like colds and coughs.
· Keep yourself busy. A mesothelioma sufferer who lives alone and only leaves the house to buy food and visit their doctor is less likely to have as long a life expectancy as another who fills their time with friends and fun. Depression is a common side effect for cancer sufferers, with 15-25% of cancer patients suffering from the mental illness. Studies have shown that this has the potential to delay recovery, and this is one reason why doctors encourage mesothelioma patients to keep themselves busy. Don’t underestimate how important it is to maintain your happiness levels. You can even combine the other suggestions offered above with this piece of advice to be social and get out into the world. For example, you may want to spend some time with your friends at the gym or cook a healthy meal together.
Last Word on the Importance of Keeping Energy Levels High
Your body needs help if it’s going to stop the spread of your mesothelioma. Remember that most people don’t survive longer than five years following their diagnosis. It’s my observation that those who have survived longer have made an extra effort to manage their body’s needs. If you eat right, rest well and stay active, you’re increasing your chances of living a happy and healthy life. Despite mesothelioma, adoption of a healthy, social lifestyle will maximize your life to the fullest.
Guest Blog Posts are occasional and designed to serve as a means for visitors to the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s website to learn from and engage with other cancer community members. Submissions are by invitation only, and edited by NFCR only for purposes of clarity, style and length, as well as basic grammar and spelling; not content or voice. The views expressed herein should not be construed as necessarily reflecting NFCR’s own or those or the scientific findings of its supported researchers.
About the Author
John Daniels is an avid writer about and promoter of well- being and positive mental attitudes. He has written extensively about how a positive mind-set can achieve any goal you set, as well as how a healthy body can enhance that mind-set. He is an avid healthy eater as well as a regular gym goer and amateur strongman.