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Finding out you have cancer can trigger a whole range of emotions.

Shock, denial and disbelief and then
a host of fears and concerns.

These often relate to family, work and career, obligations to others initially.

It’s good to talk, many of us find that our communications suffer when we are under stress but we urge you to keep talking. To your partner, your children, your friends and relatives. There is a separate section on talking to your nurses and doctors. Many cancer survivors find it a fantastic help to talk to someone else who has experienced similar things, there are some excellent forums set up by charities to help you speak to people like you and specialists too. Do have a look at the links below.

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Diet, exercise, alternative therapies.

Diet, exercise, alternative therapies. The combination of the stress of diagnosis and any illnesses and treatments can be very energy sapping. There are many ways you can explore boosting your energy levels and even your mood. There are special diets to help with flagging appetites and general wellbeing, combining this with exercise can have profound results. Lee W Jones Ph.D., an American cancer researcher summarised that there is a 10-50% reduction in risk of recurrence for breast cancer and a number of other cancers. Source:-

Consider putting your own programme of exercises, therapies and diet together. Your local health centre is a good starting point and there is a wealth of useful information on the internet – please see the links below.

Get a plan of action. With so many things happening mapping out a plan of action for your wellbeing can regain a sense of control and be great fun. Think about what re-charges you and put them on the list – book a holiday, see some music get to the yoga class. Remember there is no need to do everything at once and it does not matter if you slow your plans to suit how you feel.

Blaming yourself for getting cancer is sadly very common. It is worth remembering that the vast majority of the causes of cancer are random reproduction of cells in the body, not something anyone can control. Remember it is not your fault and there are lots of ways to help you manage going forward.

Tips for people helping a cancer survivor

  • Be there little and often
  • Listen
  • Don’t expect time or responses back – and explain that
  • Cook them a meal, take their kids off their hands for a day, or even do the ironing
  • Join in the diets and exercise it will probably help you too and make it far easier for everyone to keep to a new regime

Useful links…

www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping
www.breastcancerhaven.org.uk/Pages/FAQs/Category/one-to-one-support
www.shinecancersupport.org/get-support/young-adult-cancer-resources/anxiety-and-depression
www.maggiescentres.org/how-maggies-can-help/help-available/emotional/managing-stress/

  • Look after yourself with love and compassion.  

    Only then will you have the resources to take care of yourself and your loved ones at a time of crisis

    Find ways that help you to cultivate a positive mental attitude.  The importance of positivity for both general good health and improved clinical outcomes cannot be overstated.  Learn how to harness your instinctive wisdom and learn to stop your chattering monkey-mind from getting in the way.

    There is never a perfect way to approach difficult times, but there are many tools to try and see if they can help.  Some people find their journey through cancer life-affirming and transforms how they live their lives.  Setting goals and aims is an excellent idea, but don’t be hard on yourself if you need to change them.  Getting more tired than usual is very common and to be expected.  Eating well, getting enough sleep and the right kind of exercises, can be very powerful aids to keeping up your energy levels.  Meditation, massage and chatting to people in a similar situation who can understand you, can all help with the inevitable stress and anxiety.  Finding what works for you and doing what you can to help your body and soul.

    To understand what support you can get have a look at the charities on the Champions page – we have aimed to make it easy to get straight to some really expert help. Chat to your GP and doctor’s surgery.  Research more widely on the net, there is a wealth of resources out there to help you, and people in your support network, address the challenges of cancer.  After hearing the difficult news it is only natural to need help to re-find your feet and we urge you to try what you can.

     

     

     

  • What does it mean when people say listen to your body and indeed your gut?

    It is striking just how many personal stories from cancer survivors give examples of women feeling ill for some time, going to the doctor’s several times often over several years, before being diagnosed and treated.

    Things like tiredness, fluctuating weight, stomach aches or persistent coughs can all be telling you all is not right. It is very difficult for doctors as so many of these symptoms are really common and often nothing serious, so it is worth keeping a diary if you are getting persistent symptoms.  The vast majority of times everything is going be OK.

    If you do get sent for tests do remember medical best practice is evolving from only testing people if they are confident something is wrong with testing more people to identify any problems earlier.  This means most people are likely to be OK.

    If you don’t feel satisfied do go back to see your doctor, or contact one of the excellent specialist advisors offered by many of the cancer charities, such as Ask Eve’s Gynaecological cancer information service on 0808 802 0019 or via email nurse@eveappeal.org.uk.

    Above all, it is worth taking a bit of time out or your busy life to understand how you are feeling physically and emotionally.  Get to know your body so you have a reference point if anything changes. And if there are things you are worried about or want to change don’t ignore yourself, take some action.

  • On a real positive note people that get knocked back in life by such things as cancer, react in many different ways. However, some found a reason to live that they never realised before, saying it wasn’t until ‘X’ happened that I started to live my life!

    We love Einstein’s theory of insanity = doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!

    So, if you want to reduce your risk or you have been diagnosed, things need to change, so be prepared to make these changes.

    Below is a great set of Twelve Commandments, taken from the Harvard Medical School, for you to take on board and share with your loved ones.

    You don’t have to be an international scientist to understand how you can try to protect yourself and your family.

    The 12 commandments of cancer prevention are:

    • 01

      Water! We are about 70% water, this is an area that people overlook, this is your mass, hydration is key.

      Dehydration is linked to a number of common health problems, that affect your ability to function properly at work and throughout the day. Not only does it impact your health but affects your finances and your family life too. The effects are listed below:

      • Affects thinking and focus
      • Affects performance
      • Affects how you feel
      • Affects appearance
      • Affects vulnerability to chronic health conditions

      Read More – Link to blog (water)

    • 02

      Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.

    • 03

      Eat properly. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers. Limit your intake of charbroiled foods (especially meat), and avoid deep-fried foods. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Although other reports are mixed, two large 2003 studies found that high-fiber diets may reduce the risk of colon cancer. And don’t forget to eat fish two to three times a week; you’ll get protection from heart disease, and you may reduce your risk of cancer.

    • 04

      Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, and it may even help prevent prostate cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman’s risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Exercise will help protect you even if you don’t lose weight.

    • 05

      Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Calories count; if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise.

    • 06

      If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one to two drinks a day. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon; it also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Smoking further increases the risk of many alcohol-induced malignancies.

    • 07

      Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. Get medical imaging studies only when you need them. Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers. But don’t worry about electromagnetic radiation from high-voltage power lines or radio frequency radiation from microwaves and cell phones. They do not cause cancer.

    • 08

      Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

    • 09

      Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles.

    • 10

      Taking an aspirin every day could cut your risk of developing cancer, report BBC News and The Daily Telegraph among other news outlets, after the publication of a large-scale review of the evidence. People aged between 50 and 65 who take aspirin every day for 10 years could cut their risk of certain cancers by up to 30%, according to the study published in the Annals of Oncology.  The researchers calculated that for average-risk individuals aged 50 to 65 taking aspirin for 10 years, there would be a relative reduction of between 7% (women) and 9% (men) in the number of cancer, myocardial infarction or stroke events over a 15-year period, and an overall 4% relative reduction in all deaths over a 20-year period. For further information READ MORE on the NHS website.

    • 11

      Get enough vitamin D. Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that’s nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies. But don’t count on other supplements. Careful studies show that selenium, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, folic acid, and multivitamins are not protective and that some may do more harm than good.

    • 12

      These lifestyle changes will yield another cancer-preventing benefit: if you stay healthy, you won’t need cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, drugs that suppress the immune system) that have the ironic side effect of increasing the risk of additional cancers.

  • If one of your friends has cancer, you may be wondering the best way to support him or her. Even though you want to help, it can be hard to know what to say or do.

    It’s important to remember that there are no set rules and every friendship is different. Keep it simple. Remember that often the little things mean the most.

    Take Time to Prepare Yourself:

    • Take time to cope with your own emotions first. This way, you can keep the focus on your friend.
    • Learn about the diagnosis. Your friend may not want to talk about the details for many reasons. It can be physically and emotionally tiring to repeat the same information to different people. If possible, the person’s spouse or a mutual friend may be able to give you the basics. Write it down and repeat it back to them to be sure you’ve gotten the correct information. In addition, if there’s information that is unknown or not shared, don’t push for more.

    Think about it from your friend’s perspective. Remember a time when you were scared or felt sick. Think about what it felt like. What did you want to talk about? How did you want to be treated? They may have lost weight or changed in appearance so start your visit by saying “It’s good to see you” instead of commenting on any physical changes.

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Getting help with finances
if you get cancer

Coping with a cancer diagnosis is challenging enough without having to worry about finances. These days it is so difficult to have “rainy day” savings to help at these times but there are some affordable insurance policies which will pay you a cash lump sum on diagnosis of cancer to help you stop money worries and let you focus on getting better.

If you have, or have had cancer, you might not be eligible for insurance, but there are still some excellent resources available, Macmillan in particular offer specialised support for cancer patients with money worries.

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Real life stories

Ruth Taylor, 45, is a mum of two who was diagnosed with breast cancer back in May 2016. We are honoured to share her journey from initial diagnosis, informing her family, through to chemo and radiotherapy. She hopes to raise awareness and educate others about breast cancer, while firmly kicking cancer back where it belongs.

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