salad with healthy fats
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Eat Well

Fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole-grain foods give you more strength than junk food can. They can also help you manage treatment side effects, keep your weight up, and lower your risk of infection. A steady dose of good food may even speed up your recovery time. Do your immune system a favor though, and be careful with raw foods. Always wash fruits and veggies, skip the alfalfa sprouts, and stick with pasteurized products. 

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Drink Water

When you don’t get enough fluids, your cells struggle to work the way they should. Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses a day should keep your body’s minerals in balance. Shoot for more than that to help fight side effects that can dry you out, like vomiting and diarrhea.

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Move Your Body

It boosts your mood and builds strength. If you’re new to exercise, check with your doctor before you begin. Start slow, and build up to 30 minutes a day. Regular workouts not only make you feel good, they can also help keep some cancers from coming back.

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Make Time to Rest

It’s important to get some activity when you have cancer, but don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. When you feel tired, take a break. Spend your energy wisely. Spread out items on your to-do list over time. Don’t try to tackle them all at once.

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Prep for Side Effects

When you live with cancer, knowledge is power. Read up on the typical side effects you might expect during and after treatment. That can give you a sense of control over what’s happening with your body. You’ll feel ready for what’s ahead.

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Talk It Out

Whether it’s family, a good friend, or a trained counselor, talk to someone about what you’re feeling. Opening up can help you manage the wide range of feelings that come with a cancer diagnosis.

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Find Your Zen

Zap your stress. It’s a must. The fewer worries you have, the better your body can battle cancer. Meditation, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, tai chi, and even aromatherapy can dial back tension and help you unwind.

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Go for a Massage

Gentle or deep kneading on sore muscles can help ease pain and stress. Check with your doctor first. Massage isn’t for everyone. Then find a licensed massage therapist who knows how to work with people that have cancer. 

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Try Acupuncture

This traditional Chinese treatment dates back thousands of years. A practitioner will stick thin needles into specific spots in your skin. It sounds scary, but it can help ease nausea and even relieve some types of cancer-related pain. Be careful if you’re on blood thinners or have a low blood count.

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Add Aromatherapy

Got nausea? Certain smells may ease your stomach. You can see someone trained in aromatherapy, drop scent-infused oils into your bath water, or diffuse them into the air in your home. Some massage therapists use scented oils as part of their treatment for a pain/nausea/stress combo relief.

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Face Your Finances

The cost of cancer care can be more than you planned for. Learn as much as you can before you start treatment so you know what to expect. You may want to find a financial counselor or advocate who can help you figure out your options and come up with a plan.

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Tune In

It’s a fact: Music lifts your mood. But did you know it can help with cancer treatment side effects? Trained music therapists can guide you through listening to songs, writing lyrics, playing an instrument, or just listening to help control nausea, vomiting, and pain.

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Get Your ZZZs

Cancer can really mess with your sleep. Getting good shut-eye plays a huge role in both your physical and emotional health. So if you can’t nod off, you need to do something about it. A doctor can help figure out what’s to blame and suggest some fixes. You might try relaxation techniques, working on your sleep habits, therapy, or even medication.

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Stay Well Groomed

Shave. Take a bath. Put on some clean, comfy clothes. These simple things can all help you feel more like yourself. Keeping up with your hygiene is an important part of your health. It can help give you a sense of control and lift your spirits.

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Join Up

A cancer support group can ease worry and depression about your diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if you meet online or in person. Getting to know other people who have cancer gives you a safe place to share your stress and helps you feel less alone. 

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/02/2017 Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on May 02, 2017

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American Cancer Society: “Benefits of good nutrition during cancer treatment,” “Caring for Your Appearance During Cancer Treatment,” “How do I cope?” “Managing general symptoms of advanced cancer,” “Managing the Costs of Your Cancer Treatment.”

American Society of Clinical Oncology: “Counseling,” “Food Safety During and After Cancer Treatment,” “Physical Activity Tips for Survivors,” “Support Groups.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cancer: Which alternative cancer treatments are worth trying?” “Tests and Procedures: Acupuncture: Definition,” Tests and Procedures: Acupuncture: Risks.”

National Cancer Institute: “Sleep Disorders.”

Cancer Research UK: “Massage therapy.”

Penn Medicine OncoLink: “Acupuncture When Blood Counts are Low.”

Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on May 02, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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