Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is one of the most important things you can do for your health. If you have just finished cancer treatment, Women’s Health Week (5-11 September) is a great chance to take a moment to assess your overall health and wellbeing.
How are you feeling after treatment, physically and mentally? Both your body and mind have been through a lot. Practicing self-care in the form of exercising regularly, eating well and managing stress can help you to feel physically re-energised and better able to deal with the emotional effects of cancer.
Cancer Council SA offers a free Healthy Living after Cancer Program to support cancer survivors to set and achieve their physical and emotional wellbeing goals after treatment. One of our participants said that the program validated how they were feeling both physically and emotionally.
“I got to spend time with people with shared experiences and I learnt a lot about the resources available to assist me moving forward.” – Healthy Living after Cancer Program participant.
All participants receive weekly coaching calls from our experienced nurses. Our Cancer Council 13 11 20 Nurse Lead, Karen Hall says some advice we share with our Healthy Living after Cancer Participants is to start with small goals and gradually build up over time.
Karen has shared some goals to help get you started on your own healthy living after cancer journey:
Increasing your physical activity
“If you want to increase your physical activity levels, you may find that planning and scheduling ‘active time’ into your diary can help you get into the routine, particularly in the beginning when it’s more difficult,” Karen says.
“You don’t have to join a gym to be more active. Walking is great exercise. Walk instead of drive to the shops and walk in your lunch breaks.”
Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet
“A great place to start when it comes to improving your diet is to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day,” Karen says.
“Fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruit and vegetables can all be chosen as part of a healthy diet. Most fruits and vegetables are high fibre foods so can keep you feeling fuller for longer.”
Be mindful during everyday tasks
“Mindfulness can help you manage emotions and can be practiced anytime, anywhere,” Karen says.
Give this simple mindfulness technique a go while you’re cleaning your teeth: Notice how the toothbrush feels on your teeth and gums, how the toothpaste smells and tastes and what sounds the brushing makes. Give all your attention to what you are doing.
About the Healthy Living after Cancer Program
Our Healthy Living after Cancer Program supports participants to make healthy lifestyle changes through a series of four workshops delivered by qualified health professionals, as well as weekly telephone coaching calls for tips and motivation along the way.
The program covers four key topics:
- Physical activity – finding the right exercise for you, how often to exercise and how to exercise safely.
- Healthy eating – creating good eating habits, portion sizes and healthy food choices.
- Emotional wellbeing – the emotional rollercoaster, stress management and mindfulness.
- Staying on track – setting goals, planning for healthy living and celebrating your success.
The 12-week program is free for people over 18 who have completed active cancer treatment, or for people on maintenance cancer treatments who feel well and able to physically participate.