Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is one of the most important things you can do for your health. In November, 12 South Australians, including Maria who has recently completed treatment for breast cancer, took part in our 12-week Healthy Living after Cancer Program and have been able to set and achieve their physical and emotional wellbeing goals.
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 with an experienced cancer nurse for tips and motivation along the way.
Maria joined the program after one of her colleagues, who is going through their own cancer experience, saw the Healthy Living after Cancer Program on Facebook and told her about it. She had just completed 12 months of cancer treatment after a tumour was found in her breast.
“I went for a bone scan after a persistent back injury, which subsequently found three lesions in my breast and two in my liver. My world stopped momentarily after that phone call,” Maria says.
As a nurse, Maria went back to work and tried to return to normal until she’d received more definitive results—advice she would give to her patients—but she found it was harder than she thought it would be. Two weeks later, she had the lesions biopsied and one in her breast was found to be cancerous.
“Chemo then surgery then radiotherapy. The final infusion was 12 months later. Then that was it. It was over. I was not the same,” Maria says.
“I was feeling a bit rudderless and needing a bit of support to get me back on track. Once your hair grows back everyone around you thinks that you’re OK, but I think that is the time you start to process what has just happened to you.
“The program was broken up into sections—diet, exercise, mental wellbeing and preparing to get back to work. I was given the tools to make SMART goals and keep on track with my journal.
“A cancer nurse would ring a week before the next session, which I found invaluable (even at times a bit confessional). The program facilitated group discussions and I soon became aware that how I was feeling was very common.
“I think trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be difficult at times. But on reflection and by setting SMART goals, it seems more achievable.
“It helped me feel grounded again. It gave me tools that I will continue to use when I need a reset. I know I can reach out to the hotline if ever there was a need and I don’t feel rudderless anymore.”
The Healthy Living after Cancer 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.