Living with cancer

    • Brief

    • Most people consider cancer to be a terminal illness because of its rate of progression and its ability to undermine a person’s health quickly, often leading to death. There has been a lot of developments regarding cancer. One such development is an improved way of managing it, and because of this, it is no longer referred to as a “terminal illness” bit is now often referred to as a “chronic illness”. Treatment and management depends on the type of cancer, the rate of progression, and whether it was detected early enough.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is always difficult, either a new diagnosis or a remission. It is normal to grieve and to feel angry or scared, but it is also important to begin to take steps to manage the condition. Early treatment is important to get opportunities for better outcomes.

      Generally, cancer is managed with drugs (chemotherapy) and using high doses of radiation to reduce the tumour size and kill cancer cells (radiotherapy).

    • Work and your health

    • You may have questions about work, how much you may be able to do and if you need to inform your office. These are the kind of questions you would like to discuss with your healthcare provider. The final decision will, of course, be yours.

      Some side-effects of medications will include hair loss, pain and vomiting. Some of these effects can be managed with medicines. You might want to cut your hair short or use wigs.

      Cancer treatment will require the use of many medications at different times. Create reminders on your mobile phones to help you remember when and what medications you take each time.

    • Diet and nutrition

    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your foods should contain a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein, fats and oil. Make sure your carbohydrates are from fruits (like watermelon), whole grains (like brown rice or ofada rice), nuts (like groundnut or walnut) and vegetables (like carrots). Your protein should be from plant sources (beans), dairy (eggs), fish and lean meat (white meat like chicken) since they contain less fat.

      Make a meal plan to discipline yourself to eat meals that will give you the energy to manage the stress and tiredness of cancer management.

      Quit tobacco (e.g. cigarettes, shisha) as the harmful substances in tobacco may worsen your condition.

      Stop drinking alcohol, as this may interact with the medicines you use.

    • Physical activity

    • Start to exercise (more often). Exercising helps to improve your mood and maintains your energy levels. This, in turn, affects your emotional health and physical health.

    • Support from family and community

    • Joining a support group or speaking with your family and friends can help you deal with the challenges of living with cancer. When the future appears bleak, speaking with your friends, family or caregiver can help you get the strength to go on.

      Serving as a caregiver? Caregivers need to be well informed about the person and the type of cancer they have.  Helping out with hospital appointments, follow-up visits, and support group meetings can be really helpful. Help keep the person you are caring for organized by creating a timetable, balancing physical activities with managing stress, and help them to maintain a healthy diet.

    • Financial impact

    • Living with cancer also means you spend a lot of money on care. If you have health insurance, ask your healthcare provider for information about what is covered and what isn't. You may need to start a health savings account to ensure that you do not run out of money during your treatment.

      You may need financial assistance at some point. You should discuss this with loved ones who are willing to help.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Living with cancer is life-altering but an early diagnosis can mean a lot for you. When diagnosed early enough, most people can live for longer with a better quality of life.

      It is possible to live cancer-free following successful therapy. You should continue getting checked in the hospital so remission can be caught early.

      Most people are better able to follow their diet and physical activity schedule for longer when they join a support group. Ask your healthcare provider about support groups in your area.