Living with Cancer

There is no doubt that cancer is probably a source of various pain and sufferings for most patients. Each victim, according to his own experience, sees his cancer differently and expresses his needs or feeling in his own manner. Living with cancer is difficult for most patients. Because a cancer may have a significant impact both physically and psychologically, it is important to have information that will help you better cope with your difficulties. It is very important to know that regardless of the type or the stage of cancer you have you can become cancer free and enjoy a vigorous health for the rest of your life. This document presents steps to follow to help you withstand the vicissitudes of the disease and end being victorious.

Relieving Pain – you cannot fully enjoy life while living with cancer and being in pain; therefore, you need to first relieve any pain associated with the disease. Cancer does not necessarily mean living in pain. In fact, most cancers cause painful symptoms only at the final stage. Even when this occur at some point in the illness, the pain is not inevitable. If you experience pain, it is important that you talk with your health care provider or use an alternative pain killer. Now, some patients use medical marijuana or cannabis oil to treat their pain. Certain cancer patients claim they are completely healed within 3 months of using cannabis oil – preferably the Rick Simpson Protocol.

If you don’t want alternative and have concerns or questions regarding the use of drugs to reduce your pain, please talk with your oncologist or primary physician. Your healthcare team can refer you to appropriate specialist (anesthetist, palliative care specialist , radiation oncologist) to determine an overall care program aiming at stopping your pain. Other means or alternative pain relievers such as physiotherapy and relaxation can also be useful.

Eating Well – it is very important that you adopt a healthy diet while living with cancer. As they say, there is no effective treatment without a healthy diet. Some cancer treatments can cause difficulties to eat and require you to change your eating habits. Radiation therapy in the head or neck area can affect the salivary glands, causing dry mouth which in return that impairs mastication, and mouth or swallowing movements. Corticosteroid therapy and hormone therapy may cause certain patients to gain weight. Dietary supplements such as chaga extract and B17 can be greatly helpful. These food supplements and immune booster help your body fight against disease and increases your chance of recovery.

Cancers that directly affect the digestive tract (mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, intestinal cancer, stomach or gastric cancer) or organ involved in digestion and absorption of foods (liver, pancreas) involve taking precautions in eating habit. In addition, certain surgical procedures can affect normal functioning of the digestive system. These effects are mostly temporary and related to the duration of treatment. It is then necessary to develop ways to circumvent or defeat these adverse effects so that you can get enough intake of nutritional supplements your body needs.

Because during and after the treatment, the important thing is to keep your body in good balance and to maintain a certain pleasure in the table, do not hesitate to talk to a nutritionist about your diet. You can also buy a ‘cancer diet book’ to get informed on how and what to eat. Regardless of your diet or eating habit, it is important to eat plenty of fruits and cruciferous vegetables. See the Anti-Cancer Foods section for more information.

Complementary Medicines – The concept of “complementary medicine” refer to all therapeutic practices that are not integrated into the conventional health care system. Practiced by people in the medical field, they form a very varied set which includes both ancient techniques as well as new therapeutic approaches.

Among the most common practices include osteopathy (a form of non-invasive medical technique that focuses on total body health without using drugs) , phytotherapy (treatment by plants and plant extracts ), homeopathic medicine (alternative medicine consisting of treating the individual with highly diluted substances, aiming of triggering the body’s natural system of healing) , acupuncture, massage, relaxation, and prayer therapy (which can be effective for those who have faith  in the living God). Complementary medicines are widely used by cancer patients. In fact, between 40 and 90% of cancer victims use them, according to many surveys.

Although the effectiveness of these alternative cancer treatments is doubtful, some of them are measured by clinical studies. It was thus demonstrated that complementary medicine can sometimes positively complete conventional treatment, especially for reducing certain side effects and improve quality of life for patients. In addition, these alternatives allow the patients living with cancer to take active part in the treatment, making them feel more positive.

Taking Care of Your Body – certain cancerous conditions tend to affect the physical integrity. Scars, weight loss, weight gain, hair loss can undermine the image of the body. Your self-esteem can hurt when you look at your body while in pain and when others look at you. To reduce that feeling you can improve your appearance and correct some of the effects of the disease by taking care of your skin, nails, teeth and, if necessary, wear facial makeup. Dental care is very important because chemotherapy increases the risk of dental problems.

In fact, taking care of your body provides not only physical benefit but also psychological. The occurrence of a disease should not put an end to this natural concern but probably requires some adjustments, tact and information. There are a multitude of alternative dental and skin care productsoffered for people living with cancer; it is probably not always easy to choose. However, you can consider Lindi Skin care products which are known to help cancer patients. If necessary, you may need to use complementary therapies: aromatherapy, art therapy, music therapy, massage therapy, reflexology, and relaxation to help you sleep. Regular intake of omega3 supplement and good night sleep (about 7 hours) are the two best ways to help you look good.

You may also need to begin or continue an exercise program (fast walking and riding bike for instance) adapting to your health status or capacity of the moment. You can join a gym recommended by your doctor or any group aimed for patients or fragile people. When it comes to exercisefor cancer patients, however, i t is important to first talk to a health care provider and make choices closely adapted to your needs.

Psychological Support – The occurrence of cancer is a break in the path of life of every individual. The disease affects almost all aspects of life: psychological, physical, familial and social. It can cause more or less important psychological suffering that the patient can be unable to overcome alone.These can manifest as sadness, clinical depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, helplessness, lack of sexual desire (erectile dysfunction). Other important symptoms that may also occur in individuals living with cancer include insomnia (or sleep disorders), decreased or loss of appetite and social uncomfortability which can restrict your ability to function normally. Side effects related to treatment, may also be a source of anxiety and insecurity. They can accentuate your sense of unease and put you in a state of psychological stress.

Do not suffer in silence or wait until these disorders completely invade you to seek professional help. It is perfectly legitimate, at any time of your sickness, to seek support. Various specialists (nurses, social workers, religious groups, psychologists, psychiatrists) will help you better understand your illness and the adverse effects of the treatment. Depending on your needs, they can support you and / or refer you to the specialist who will best meet your current difficulties, a psycho-oncologist for example.

Community / Social Involvement – when it comes to social involvement, going to church should be top priority. Fervent and faithful prayers have miraculously saved many people from terminal diseases including cancer. It is not an obligation to have a religious leader to pray for you; you can pray on your own. All you need to do is to communicate with your heavenly Father. Read your bible daily (you can read the Bible along with “Desire of Ages”, one of the most inspirational books ever), pray God to help you repent of your sins, keep his commandments (including the 4th, the Sabbath – Exodus 20: 1-17). But remember, you keep God’s commencements because you love him, not to be saved (John 14:15). Salvation is a gift from God; your works cannot qualify you for it. If you want God to answer your prayers, it is very important that you forgive those who hurt you, and ‘carefully make peace with your enemies.  

It is shown in many studies that regular churchgoing is not only good for the soul but also for the body too. It was shown in a 30-year study of 2,600 people that church goers were more likely to take good care of themselves and care less of the future. In addition, it was shown that those who attended ecclesiastical services regularly tended to not or less smoke and drink, take physical exercise and maintain stable marriages – all factors in a long and healthy life.

The scientists said churchgoers had lower blood pressure, experienced less major depression and anxiety, and had stronger immune systems than nonchurchgoers and had less trouble keeping their weight down. Certain denominations such as the Seventh Day Adventists have a healthy diet including in their doctrine which prevents eating certain foods: pork meat, scaleless fishes, and others.

But remember, even among the apostles there was a Judah; do not expect everyone in church to be good. There are plenty of hypocrites in every denomination. Sad to say, some church goers are even worse than those who never attend a church service. You go there to follow Jesus and have him as your model. In addition, do not believe any preacher who tells you to give donation to be blessed. God blessing is for those who obey to his words; you cannot buy it. Although God will always take care of you, do not expect prosperity when following Jesus. Instead Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and takeup their crossdaily and follow me.” Luke 9:23.

Cancer and Sexuality – in most individuals, the occurrence of cancer and its treatment affect the sexuality and couple’s life. The shock experienced by the cancer diagnosis can cause fear and sadness which often results in erectile dysfunction or decreased female libido not only in the sick person but also in their partners. The bodily changes sometimes caused by the disease and treatments (hair loss, weight gain or loss, surgical removal of a breast or other body’s part) may also have consequences, such as low self-esteem or fear of facing the others, which may cause a decrease or cessation of sexual activity. The concerns and fears of your partner may also affect your sex life. Try to share your feelings with each other and discuss the problem, if necessary, to your healthcare team.

In some people, chemotherapy does not cause sexual problems. For others, unfortunately, it causes changes in this regard. Cancer chemotherapy sometimes causes irritation of mucous membranes which can lead to painful intercourse in some women. Other side effects of chemotherapy (fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and others) may decrease the desire in the person being treated. In most cases, these problems are temporary and related to duration of the treatment.

Some cancers affect sexuality directly, either because a sexual organ is affected or because some treatments with surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy have a direct impact on the genitals. This concerns mainly gynecological cancers in women (breast, cervix of the uterus, endometrial and ovarian cancer) and cancers of the genital area in men (prostate, bladder, testicles and penis). These cancers and the side effects of their treatments can also lead to infertility. Medical technology can help preserve or restore the possibility of having a child after treatment.

What Can You Do ? 

Whether the sexual problems are temporary or permanent, there are often suggestions for improvement that can be offered through a specific treatment. Ask your physician, a member of the care team, your gynecologist or urologist, about the possible consequences of the disease and treatment on your sexual life and on the available solutions to address them.

Communicate with your partner about the problem; respect and listen mutually to avoid feelings of misunderstanding or dissatisfaction. If necessary, seeing a psychologist or sex therapist may be helpful in informing you steps to take. Feel free to talk with your caregivers who treat and follow you. When you are living with cancer, it is not necessary to struggle alone with your questions and difficulties.

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