All you need to know about your post-cancer treatment mental health.

Apart from being physically strong, mental wellness is also one of the most important criteria in being healthy and happy. As a cancer survivor, you may have experienced anger, sadness and fear during the treatment process. This is normal.

01 Oct 2019
Some patients spend a lifetime battling the disease and have been constantly preoccupied with the notion of alleviating suffering. Most never really break away from this mental struggle, therefore it is important that cancer survivors continue fighting to improve their mental health. Here are five ways to do so.

1. Using Mental Exercises to Combat ‘Chemo Brain’
Are you familiar with the term ‘chemo brain’? Yes, this is an actual term which is used to describe cancer survivors who experience problems with thinking, cognition, memory and attention. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments affect your brain and cause mental health problems, and as a result, you may suffer from depression, anxiety, stress and sleeping trouble. This could lead to difficulty in performing daily functions such as remembering, thinking, recognising faces and places, as well as learning new skills. To combat and reverse these side effects, try practising mental exercises using puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords or memory games to keep your mental wheels spinning. You should also consult your physician to find out more about the various activities that can be performed to improve the affected part of your brain.

2. Communication is Key to Mindfulness
While you may feel all alone in your suffering, take comfort in knowing that there are many out there who are facing similar hardships just like you. It is only when you let your guard down and communicate your apprehensions and innermost feelings will you realise that you are not in this alone. Speak to your family members, get support from your friends and or seek therapy if you require assistance. Additionally, you can join a support group for cancer survivors, where everyone present is bonded by the common goal of survival.

3. One Day at a Time
The fight may be over, but it may take some time before you are finally able to get back to work or adjust to daily routines. Take it slow. Do not push yourself too much. Even if this means reaching out to a friend for financial help, or a family member to help with preparation of daily meals. Take every day as a step towards complete rehabilitation. This is a gradual process that must not be forced, but instead eased into its own intended path. The decision solely rests on you, so be sure to stay strong in embracing your ‘new normal’.

4. Healthy Eating is the Gateway to Healthy Living
As a result of arduous chemotherapy and cancer treatment sessions, your body is bound to have undergone tremendous stress. Thus, it is vital to provide it with proper nutrition during the mental recovery process. Consult a nutritionist who will be able to work out a healthy and balanced diet plan which includes whole grains, lean meat, protein-rich foods like pulses, legumes, beans, and fish, and low-fat foods. The consumption of green tea once a day is also a great addition to your diet as the amino acids in the tea helps in boosting your attention span and increasing your ability to focus.

5. Staying Active Ensures Good Physical and Mental Health
Incorporating exercise as part of your daily routine is also important to stay mentally active and physically fit. Try joining classes such as core flow yoga, Pilates and gentle flow yoga which promote mindfulness. Exercise releases endorphins, ‘happy hormones’ which leaves you feeling good and gives your mood an overall boost. As a cancer survivor, remember that you are not alone and had to fight for your second chance at life. And if you can fight cancer and survive, then nothing else can stand in the way of you living your best life.