Top health and fitness tips for cancer survivors
Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD
Eat foods that are cancer-protective to help prevent a recurrence, and get back into exercise to lose extra pounds.
A bout with breast cancer is likely to leave you eager to do all you can to prevent a recurrence. You may be frustrated that there's only so much about cancer prevention you can control.
As a breast cancer survivor, you'll also want to make sure that your diet contains plenty of low-fat protein, such as cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), beans, nuts, and white meat chicken or turkey. Protein rebuilds muscle and tissue, something that's particularly important when your body has undergone the assault of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Now, what about exercise? You're probably ready to be more active, and you may even have gained some weight, probably somewhere between five and 30 pounds during breast cancer treatment. Just one example: A study presented to the 11th Annual Research Conference on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer in 2001 found that about a third of women gain weight after three months of chemotherapy, and more than half gain weight after six months.
Start small and build. Ignore the recommended levels of weekly exercise set for people with no health problems. At the beginning, you may only be able to handle a 15-minute walk four times a week.
Talk to your doctor. You may have ignored those warnings that always appear in the fitness magazines: "Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program." Don't ignore them this time. Check with your treatment team to see how much exercise they feel you can handle.