Updated: Feb 24
This year's theme for World Cancer Day was "Close the care gap". The theme focuses on reducing and eventually eliminating the inequalities and inequities in the treatment and care provided to cancer patients worldwide.
While leaders and organizations will do their bit at the community level, there is a lot that can be done for the individual......... by the individual and by the family. The idea is to bridge the gap in cancer care by spreading awareness and educating people to start looking after themselves.
Once a person is diagnosed with cancer, the focus of the family and the treating physician shifts to the treatment of cancer with drugs and then managing the side effects with more drugs. What everyone sometimes forgets is that there are many lifestyle choices that can and MUST be made in order to maintain good health of the individual in order to improve the effectiveness of the anti-cancer drugs as well as reduce the side effects of the drug.
Also, the diagnosis of cancer itself is a big stress for the whole family. This poses a greater risk to all of them for other lifestyle-related chronic diseases, besides cancer.
The risk to the individual is exacerbated by stress, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep (due to anxiety, cancer itself, medication, or its side effects), the feeling of isolation, lack of proper nutrition, and exhaustion due to the disease and the drugs.
The risk to the caregiver is exacerbated by many of the same factors; Stress, lack of sleep( due to anxiety, fear, and additional care-related work), lack of proper nutrition due to self-neglect, and exhaustion due to the additional burden of caring (especially if no proper social support is available)
Strive to "Close the care gap" by making healthy lifestyle choices today and encouraging others around you to do the same. Lifestyle modifications are as important for the caregiver as for the patient and need to be customized for each, separately. This is easily done, at home, making small adjustments to the current lifestyle choices, with no major cost involved.
To start with:
1. Strength, flexibility, and balance training should be part of everybody's routine, including the caregiver and especially patients who are bedridden. Watch my blog to learn about the benefits of strength training with a link to get started on your journey......Flex Your Way to Health! (myhealthclinic.org.in)
2. Healthy, nutritious food can improve the quality of life. In general, a high protein, low sugar, low-fat diet rich in vegetables and fresh fruits is good. However, it should be customized depending on the condition.
Other lifestyle choices like good sleep and stress relieving techniques can further improve physical and mental health
Cancer care begins at home
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