Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Post- Advice for Cancer Patients and Survivors

NOTE:  I lost my mother to cancer in 2001.  My step-mother just finished a grueling chemo and radiation treatment, and while the tumor is gone, she is still fighting hard to recover from the battle.  When David reached out to me asking if I would be interested in hosting this guest post with advice on battling cancer, I was touched that someone is working so proactively to help reach out to patients, caregivers, and - most importantly - cancer survivors to help them kick cancer's ass.  
- Rick

How Exercise Can Provide a Better Life For Cancer Patients
by David Haas

The world can seem a bleak and desolate place for those just diagnosed with cancer, going through treatments or those in remission. Finding the strength to stay positive can feel like an impossible task, but that doesn't have to be the case. In recent studies, experts have found that cancer patients who exercise on a regular basis and avoid inactivity enjoy tremendous increases in their quality of life and energy levels.

Doctors are even going as far as calling exercise a 'wonder drug'. While there is no evidence to suggest that exercise is in anyway a cure, a study done by Macmillan Cancer Support found that the chance of recurrence or death in a breast cancer patient is reduced by 40 percent if the patient exercises for at least 150 minutes a week. For prostate cancer patients, chances of recurrence or dying are reduced by 30 percent.

Only those affected by cancer can understand the physical and mental strain that is associated with any type of cancer, so the idea of doing physical exercise can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, the type of exercise doctors are recommending doesn't have to be strenuous. Gardening or going for a brisk walk is enough to trigger the amazing benefits associated with exercise. The key is to stay active and avoid lying in bed or watching television.

While most are familiar with the health benefits associated with exercise and the ways in which it can help with disease prevention, few consider recommending it to individuals who are already suffering from disease or illnesses such as cancer. However, patients are now living longer as a result of drastically improved treatments, such as those for mesothelioma and breast cancer, which makes it important that patients have the ability to enjoy the additional time they have with their friends and loved ones.

Exercise and stretching helps to reduce the aches and pains commonly associated with certain types of cancers and treatments, making it easier for patients to get through the day. It also helps to increase energy levels and body function, which means that patients experience not only a restoration of their health but of their hope as well.

David Haas is a cancer patient advocate and the awareness program advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. David researches and writes to help people going through cancer. You can find more of his writing at


Laurel said...

Thank you both for posting. And go, David!

Exercise really does seem to be a wonder drug. They have also found it to be the most effective treatment for long term depression. I wonder if there is a link there- depression increases risk of recurrence or death as well.

Matthew MacNish said...

Interesting stuff. Thank you both!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Exercise is so overlooked. Active people really do live longer no matter what the situation.

Sher A. Hart said...

My sister in law is struggling with another bout of ovarian cancer, and a friend is having a very tough time with treatment. I emailed the link to this post, hoping this will help.

Rick Daley said...

Thanks all for your comments. I know this is a departure from my standard smart-assery, but it's worthwhile.

Even if exercise itself doesn't cure cancer, being in good shape can help you fight a good fight.

Also important is diet. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes. Not that I don't love my junk food (I really, really do!) but I limit it and try to focus on healthy meals for the most part.

Sheryl- I hope your sister-in-law and friend are able to push the beast into remission...

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