Life After Bladder Cancer
A diagnosis of bladder cancer can help you focus on your health in ways you did not do in the past. What can you do to make you healthier? Now is the time to think about making positive changes in your life that will make you healthier and feel better. Changes listed below are considered helpful in preventing cancer and preventing cancer from returning.
Eating healthy can be hard for everyone but when you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer and are getting treatment it can even be harder than usual. For example, if you are getting treatment for bladder cancer, nausea can be a problem and also you may not be hungry. You could ask your treatment team if they could recommend a dietitian for you. A dietitian is an expert in nutrition and they may be available to you at many of the Cancer centers. They can make suggestions to you how to deal with the side effects that come with treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite, mouth sores, diarrhea or constipation. All of these side effects, of course, can make it difficult to eat. These side effects usually go away after treatment is finished. Also, drugs can be given to patients to prevent nausea and vomiting.
According to the Mayo Clinic on www.mayoclinic.org, additional measures can be taken to prevent nausea and vomiting including eating small meals throughout the day , eating what appeals to you, avoiding unpleasant smells and not cooking while you are not feeling well, drinking a lot of fluids especially cool beverages including ginger ale that has lost its carbonation, resting after you eat but not lying down for two hours, wear loose-fitting clothes and use relaxation techniques like meditation, or distract yourself by listening to music, watching TV or a movie.
Many times saltines can help; however, self measures, while helpful, do not take the place of anti-nausea medications so ask your doctor what medication they will give to you to help with the side effects of chemotherapy. Other foods that are recommended are skinless chicken (broiled or baked) cooked cereal such as oatmeal or Cream of Wheat) pretzels, pasta, white rice and toast. Always avoid fried or spicy foods.
Once the chemotherapy has ended, you will begin to feel less nauseated and should begin a healthy diet. Following a healthy diet is always a good idea to give your body the best chance at fighting and preventing illness. The American Cancer Society makes the following recommendations for people with cancer and includes the following suggestions: eating as much as you can from plant sources which include not only fruits and vegetables but also grains like bread, cereal, rice and beans, consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, avoiding high –fat foods, not drinking too much alcohol and avoiding intake of animal-sourced food.
Get More Excercise
The American Cancer Society Guidelines on Physical Activity for cancer prevention stated that for most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed in our body are weight, diet and physical activity. Our genes influence our risk of cancer but our lifestyle choices are also very important. Adults are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. Doing some physical activity, no matter what the level of activity carries many health benefits.
According to the American Cancer Society, 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese and are less physically active than they should be and this obesity increases the risk of many types of cancer. Exercise improves your emotional and physical health and makes your heart stronger. Try your best to get to a good weight and get some exercise every day. While feeling fatigue is a very normal problem after and during cancer treatment, exercise actually will help reduce the fatigue and help with depression too. Rest when you need to but try to balance rest with some physical activity until you feel stronger. Simply stated, get the most exercise that you can and start slowly, the dividends will pay off.
”The US Surgeon General has said, “Smoking cessation (stopping smoking) represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives”. As well they point out that smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer as smokers are at least 3 times more likely to get bladder cancer as nonsmokers. They believe that smoking causes about half of the bladder cancers in both men and women. This is because when smokers inhale the cancer causing chemicals in the tobacco smoke are absorbed and get in the blood. From the blood they are filtered by the kidneys and concentrated in the urine. These chemicals can damage the cells in the bladder and can cause cancer. If you once had cancer smoking increases your risk of getting it again. Enough said, quit smoking.
Certain drugs such as Actos given for diabetes are believed to increase the risk of developing or getting bladder cancer again. Check all the medications that you have been prescribed and are taking and ask your Doctor if they have any correlation between taking them and an increased risk of bladder cancer. If you are taking a drug that has such a correlation, ask your Doctor to prescribe a different drug that could help you and they usually will be willing to do so.
During and after treatment cancer patients are faced with difficult emotions. Don’t be concerned as this happens to a lot of people. Cancer affects everyone differently and it is okay and wise to seek support at this difficult time. Support comes in many forms including family, friends, church groups, cancer support groups, counselors and even communities online. The American Cancer Society has dozens of programs and services to help you through treatment and recovery and their help is free.
They have groups such as the Road to Recovery (Rides to your treatment), Look Good Feel Better which is appearance-related side effects of treatment, Patient Lodging programs such as the Hope Lodge. Your recovery team may also have suggestions locally as to where you should start to get the support you need. They want to help, you just have to know to ask. There is a wealth of help out there so please get support and don’t try to handle this alone. Many times friends and family feel shut out if you don’t ask for help. Many people dedicate their lives to helping other people get back on their feet and get through difficult time. Get support it will really help. Our Patient Support Advocates will also be able to help you to find support so feel free to call them at your convenience for this purpose also.