Life After Cancer: Importance of Self-Care for Survivors

You’ve endured chemotherapy, radiation treatment, perhaps surgery. Then, your doctor says these wonderful words: “You’re cancer-free!”

"Surviving cancer can be an emotional roller coaster for many people, as they attempt to navigate the 'new normal' of their lives," explains Kenneth Miller, M.D., an oncologist in the Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at LifeBridge Health and an expert in cancer survivorship.

"After a patient completes treatment, it is as important as ever that they continue the integral self-care practices that helped them overcome cancer in the first place. This means taking good care of themselves, getting exercise, eating well, seeking support when needed and keeping an open dialog with their medical team.

"Cancer survivors can experience some post-traumatic stress after treatment but also post-traumatic personal growth. Cancer can be an unexpected springboard to personal growth."

Here are steps you can take in the days ahead:

Manage Your Side Effects

Almost any therapy for cancer can have side effects. While some fade after a few weeks or months, others endure far longer. You might feel tired, gain or lose weight, or have a hard time concentrating or sleeping. Discuss any problems with your health care team.

Schedule Follow-Up Care

Regular visits help your doctor keep tabs on your health. He or she will watch for signs your cancer has returned and for long-term side effects from your treatment. Ask your doctor how often, and who, you should see.

Be Aware of Your Body

Between visits, take note of how you feel and any changes to your body. Share your observations at your next appointment. Ask your doctor if there are specific warning signs that require an urgent call such as pain, bleeding or digestive issues.

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Staying involved in support groups and activities can help survivors cope with unpredictable emotions.

Make a Plan

Talk with your doctor about healthy changes you can make to your lifestyle. Though you might need more rest than before, you should also ask about starting an exercise program. Several studies show physical activity reduces the risk for cancer recurrence and lengthens survivors’ lives.

Changing your diet may also help keep you cancer-free. Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and include beans in your diet. They contain phytochemicals, plant-based nutrients that protect your cells from disease.

Cope with Your Emotions

Most survivors worry their cancer will return, and some may experience depression. Talk with your health care team about your feelings. Focus on things in your control, such as taking an active role in your follow-up care and getting a good balance of rest and exercise.

Learn more about cancer survivorship programs and services at LifeBridge Health.

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

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  • Good food, good conversation and genuine words of thanks were on the menu at the #SinaiHospital employee holiday party this week. #LifeBridgeHealth executives became servers in the Greenspring Café and Café Shalom to show their appreciation for the passion employees demonstrate when they care for their patients and colleagues. #HappyHolidays #HolidayParty

    lifebridgehealth: "Good food, good conversation and genuine words of thanks were on the menu at the #SinaiHospital employee holiday party this week. #LifeBridgeHealth executives became servers in the Greenspring Café and Café Shalom to show their appreciation for the passion employees demonstrate when they care for their patients and colleagues. #HappyHolidays #HolidayParty"
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  • #LifeBridgeHealth was proud to be a partner for Festival of Lights celebrations this weekend. The 3rd annual JCC of Greater Baltimore’s Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K, One-Mile Fun Run and Family Fun Day started things off on the right foot. The Celebrate Chanukah events at Foundry Row and Greetings & Readings at Hunt Valley Mall picked up the fun with lots of activities including candle making, dreidel games and singing songs. #team #chanukah

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth was proud to be a partner for Festival of Lights celebrations this weekend. The 3rd annual JCC of Greater Baltimore’s Chanukah Hot Chocolate 5K, One-Mile Fun Run and Family Fun Day started things off on the right foot. The Celebrate Chanukah events at Foundry Row and Greetings & Readings at Hunt Valley Mall picked up the fun with lots of activities including candle making, dreidel games and singing songs. #team #chanukah"
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  • #LifeBridgeHealth held a #StopTheBleed event for some Baltimore area health education center community health workers recently to teach basic techniques of bleeding control during life-threatening situations. Dr. Fahreen Qurashi, Dr. Stephanie Armocida, Lauren Smith (trauma coordinator), Jennie Yudin (ER critical care tech), and Martha Hill (ER preparedness and base station coordinator) from #SinaiHospital educated community health workers on the proper way to #stopthebleed.

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth held a #StopTheBleed event for some Baltimore area health education center community health workers recently to teach  basic techniques of bleeding control during life-threatening situations. Dr. Fahreen Qurashi, Dr. Stephanie Armocida, Lauren Smith (trauma coordinator), Jennie Yudin (ER critical care tech), and Martha Hill (ER preparedness and base station coordinator) from #SinaiHospital educated community health workers on the proper way to #stopthebleed."
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  • Northwest Hospital is helping to shape the next generation of health care leaders and innovators through our magnet school partnership with Baltimore County Schools. Randallstown High magnet students were abuzz with excitement to be a part of the recent #NorthwestHospital tour. Students learned about artificial knees and ambulatory devices, observed sickle cells under the microscope and had interactive discussions with inpatient pharmacy. The organ dissection was hands down their favorite component! #community #baltimore

    lifebridgehealth: "Northwest Hospital is helping to shape the next generation of health care leaders and innovators through our magnet school partnership with Baltimore County Schools. Randallstown High magnet students were abuzz with excitement to be a part of the recent #NorthwestHospital tour. Students learned about artificial knees and ambulatory devices, observed sickle cells under the microscope and had interactive discussions with inpatient pharmacy. The organ dissection was hands down their favorite component! #community #baltimore"
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  • The photos are in from the 35th annual Green Valley Turkey Trot, which took place on Thanksgiving. This event benefited the Lenny “Batman” Robinson Hope for Henry program, which supports pediatric patients at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. #Thanksgiving #TurkeyTrot

    lifebridgehealth: "The photos are in from the 35th annual Green Valley Turkey Trot, which took place on Thanksgiving. This event benefited the Lenny “Batman” Robinson Hope for Henry program, which supports pediatric patients at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. #Thanksgiving #TurkeyTrot"
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    lifebridgehealth: "Why are Dr. Ed Wolf and Dr. Josh Wolf having their picture taken? Look for a profile of this father-son doctor duo coming in a local magazine. #LifeBridgeHealth #doctors"
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    lifebridgehealth: "Happy Thanksgiving from LifeBridge Health! This sweet video serves up Thanksgiving wishes without any of the calories. On this day, as every day, we’re #thankful for our #LifeBridgeHealth team members as well as our patients and their families who allow us the privilege of taking care of them. #Thankful #Thanksgiving"
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    lifebridgehealth: "During this month of #Thanksgiving, #LifeBridgeHealth team members are giving back through our annual employee giving campaign, which benefits our patients and the communities we serve. During events at facilities across our system, team members had the opportunity have some fun and to show their support the annual "Get In the Game" initiative."
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  • During the annual pinning ceremony, #NorthwestHospital President Faraaz Yousuf joined with leaders from Baltimore County Schools to welcome this year's students at the Northwest Academy of Health Sciences and the Randallstown High School Academy of Health Professions. We are so proud of this health magnet school partnership that is helping to shape the next generation of health care leaders and innovators. @randallstownhsahp

    lifebridgehealth: "During the annual pinning ceremony, #NorthwestHospital President Faraaz Yousuf joined with leaders from Baltimore County Schools to welcome this year's students at the Northwest Academy of Health Sciences and the Randallstown High School Academy of Health Professions. We are so proud of this health magnet school partnership that is helping to shape the next generation of health care leaders and innovators. @randallstownhsahp"
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  • Thanksgiving is coming, so we're talkin' turkey with some tips to help you make some healthier choices on the big day. Check out this Thanksgiving video, brought to you by #StrongerHearts, #LifeBridgeHealth's innovative collaboration with the American Heart Association. @marylandaha @american_heart #thanksgiving

    lifebridgehealth: "Thanksgiving is coming, so we're talkin' turkey with some tips to help you make some healthier choices on the big day. Check out this Thanksgiving video, brought to you by #StrongerHearts, #LifeBridgeHealth's innovative collaboration with the American Heart Association. @marylandaha @american_heart #thanksgiving"
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