To date, there's no research that proves that your lifestyle habits post-breast cancer surgery impact your risk of a breast cancer recurrence. However, Julia Rowland, PhD, director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Survivorship, assures that surviving surgery is the ideal occasion to reassess your habits!
“A cancer diagnosis represents a teachable moment,” explains Rowland. “It gives you a chance to make lifestyle changes that can benefit your general health and cancer status,” she adds.
Here are four lifestyle changes Rowland recommends for surviving and thriving post-surgery.
A doctor shares for post-breast cancer surgery tips
#1: Avoid habits like drinking and smoking
Some breast cancer
sufferers have never drank alcohol or smoked a cigarette in their life and eat a healthy, low-fat
diet. But on the flip side, some studies show a link between breast cancer
and the exact same poor lifestyle habits that trigger other health problems like type 2 diabetes
and heart disease
. Research has found that being overweight
or obese – especially after menopause – boosts your risk of breast cancer
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#2: Exercise regularly
This doesn’t mean you have to join the gym. According to the American Cancer Society, you only need to squeeze in 30 minutes or more of moderate activity five or more days a week. The aim is to get your heart rate up, which will also improve your mood and sleep
, control weight gain, reduce stress
levels, boost self-esteem and protect against other killers like type 2 diabetes
and heart disease
#3: Go for regular check-ups
It’s vital that you put together a schedule of regular visits to your doctor after surgery. Keep this in mind – each and every year without a recurrence marks an important reduction in your risk. You should view five years as a major milestone! Still, recurrences can occur 20, even 25, years after surgery, which is why it’s so important you continue to go for screenings.
#4: Lift your spirits!
There may be little evidence to prove that your attitude affects your outcomes, but I’m sure we can agree that seeking out activities and people that you truly enjoy can give you a sense of purpose and meaning. If the blues are clouding your mind, try writing out a list of the pros and cons in your life. You have more to be thankful for than what you might realise!
Pssst! You should also never forget how strong and amazing you are. A real inspiration to all those around you!
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