By: Lisa C.S. Rootvik, ARNP, Survivorship Nurse Practitioner
While every cancer survivor is unique, here are three things that everyone can do (even non-cancer survivors!) that are beneficial for overall health.
1) Eat a healthy diet. People have written encyclopedias worth of information on this topic and our newsletter just isn’t long enough for all of it! But here are a few tips that can improve the health of most people: eat a diet rich in whole grains, eat a wide variety of colors of fresh fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow!), avoid processed foods as much as possible, and get at least some of your protein from nuts and legumes each day. A great resource, “14 Keys to a Healthy Diet,” can be found at berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/slideshow/14-keys-helathy-diet. If you feel you need help working on creating a healthy diet, ask one of your providers for a referral to a local registered dietician for more help.
2) Get moving. The recommended amount of moderate exercise each week is 150 minutes (30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week). This can include any activity that moderately raises your heart rate, including walking, using cardio equipment at home or at the gym, playing tag with kids/grandkids, swimming and many other activities. While we have lots of sunshine here in the Tri-Cities, we also have extreme temperatures and wind that can keep people indoors so always make sure you have a back-up activity planned that isn’t weather dependent. If you haven’t been exercising but are interested in starting, make sure to check with one of your providers to see what is safe for you and remember that it is always OK to start with shorter, easier exercises and work your way up to 150 minutes a week slowly over time. If you recently completed cancer treatment, or if you have seen me for a visit at the Survivorship Clinic, you may be eligible for our Cancer WellFit™ program which provides free personal training for cancer survivors. Call (509) 737-3420 for more information on this program or to register.
3) Quit smoking. This ideally includes vaping as well. We all know that smoking can have detrimental effects on our health and lead not only to cancer but to chronic lung diseases such as emphysema. The evidence that vaping is safer than smoking, or that vaping can help smokers stop smoking, is shaky at best. And we don’t really understand yet what the long term health effects are of vaping. We do know, however, that using e-cigarettes to quit smoking traditional cigarettes often leads to people smoking both rather than quitting traditional cigarettes and that’s not healthy at all! For those who are able to quit smoking, the wonderful news is that your risk of developing cancer decreases after you quit and continues to decrease the longer you are a non-smoker. Do you need help quitting? We have a Quit Tobacco program at TCCC that can help you quit for good call (509) 737-3427 or you can go online to doh.wa.gov/SmartQuit for additional resources.