Improving Quality of Life After Chemotherapy

After active treatment is a time when patients often feel at a loss. The frequent treatments, follow ups and consultations have ended, but the fear of recurrence and side-effects of treatment may not have not gone away. The transition away from the aggressive fight to a care that is not as defined leaves many wanting. The physical body may be very different than the one that was there before cancer. Old ailments may flare up like allergies or excema and new problems may compound the picture. Complimentary and natural health strategies in the post-treatment phase help fill the gap not only on the physical level and also provide much needed calm. The importance of nutrition, exercise, and related lifestyle factors take center stage along with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

In a study of 551 breast cancer survivors. Two-thirds (66%) of the women used at least one CAM (complimentary and Alternative Medicine) therapy during the previous 12 months, and the majority of them perceived that their CAM use was without the recommendation of their doctor. Relaxation/meditation, herbs, spiritual healing, and megavitamins were used most often. Significant predictors of CAM use included younger age, higher education, and private insurance. The majority of the CAM therapies were perceived by their users to be at least “moderately important” in remaining free of cancer. The reasons given for using CAM were to enhance overall quality of life, to feel more in control, to strengthen the immune system, and to reduce stress. Those surveyed stated that CAM use did not reflect negative attitudes towards conventional medical care, but rather an orientation to self-care in the optimization of their health and well being. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Jan-Feb;10(1):52-7.

Often people think of health as the absence of disease and although that is huge especially for a cancer patient, real health is the person functioning at peak and optimal performance physically, mentally and emotionally without limitation by energy, pain, nor dysfunction of body systems. Optimal health may look different depending upon your individual circumstances. Not everyone will return to their pre-diagnosis life the same as they do after treatment, nor should they.

Rachel Naomi Remen, a doctor and author of Kitchen Table wisdom says, “Sometimes what appears to be a catastrophe, over time becomes a strong foundation from which to live a good life. It’s possible to live a good life even though it isn’t an easy life. And I think that’s one of the best kept secrets in America.” I see people with cancer and other people who have encountered very difficult experiences in their lives as teachers of wisdom. It’s as if the repository of the wisdom to live well is with the sick people in our culture.”

Making choices to live well should include natural medicine. Blood markers may be used to design a recovery program, along with measurements of nutritional or hormonal status. Other times, by looking at the pattern of imbalance within Chinese medicine customized herbal combinations are formulated to address the individuals’ presentation. Acupuncture helps to relieve pain, reduce inflammation restore normalcy to every body system and calm the mind.

Perhaps a surgery recovery program will address your needs. Each person is unique in what they may need.

The proverb, “life is suffering, pain is optional”, can be understood that life is difficult, there is much suffering, but how we react to this circumstance is what can determine the quality of our life. This and staying healthy with natural medicine may keep you away from reoccurence or retard a cancer’s growth.

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