For many people, a diagnosis of cancer helps them focus on their health in ways they may not have thought much about in the past. Are there things you could do that might make you healthier? Maybe you could try to eat better or get more exercise. Maybe you could cut down on alcohol, or give up tobacco. Even things like keeping your stress level under control may help. Now is a good time to think about making changes that can have positive effects for the rest of your life. You will feel better and you will also be healthier.
You can start by working on those things that worry you most. Get help with those that are harder for you. For instance, if you are thinking about quitting smoking and need help, call the American Cancer Society for information and support. Our tobacco cessation and coaching service can help increase your chances of quitting for good.
Eating right can be hard for anyone, but it can get even tougher during and after cancer treatment. This is especially true for cancers of the gallbladder. The cancer or its treatment may affect your appetite or alter how you digest foods. Nausea can be a problem. You may not feel like eating and lose weight when you don’t want to. All of these things can be very frustrating.
If treatment causes weight changes or eating or taste problems, do the best you can and keep in mind that these problems usually get better over time. You may find it helps to eat small portions every 2 to 3 hours until you feel better.
If eating problems last a long time, your doctor may have you see a nutritionist, who can work with you and give you information about your individual nutritional needs. They might recommend that you use nutritional supplements, which can help you maintain your weight and nutritional intake.
Extreme tiredness, called fatigue, is very common in people treated for cancer. This is not a normal tiredness, but a bone-weary exhaustion that often doesn’t get better with rest. For some people, fatigue lasts a long time after treatment, and can make it hard for them to be active and do other things they want to do. But exercise can help reduce fatigue. Studies have shown that patients who follow an exercise program tailored to their personal needs feel better physically and emotionally and can cope better, too.
If you were sick and not very active during treatment, it’s normal for your fitness, endurance, and muscle strength to decline. Any plan for physical activity should fit your own situation. If you haven’t been active in a few years, you will have to start slowly – maybe just by taking short walks.
Talk with your healthcare team before starting anything. Get their opinion about your exercise plans. Then, try to find an exercise buddy so you’re not doing it alone. Havingfamily or friends involved when starting a new activity program can give you that extra boost of support to keep you going when the push just isn’t there.