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Guest Blog: Cancer Patients Can Benefit from Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness

Scott Sanders of has provided a guest blog on wellness, cancer, and yes–eye health also plays a role! Here’s what he has to say:

It’s an understatement to call a cancer diagnosis a life-changing event. It may be the worst thing imaginable to hear from a health care professional, and most are bowled over by the enormity of its consequences. And once a patient summons the strength to get up and start the fight, cancer treatment’s physical and emotional drain can knock even the sturdiest down. Because of this, it’s important for cancer patients to follow a holistic approach where self-care and spiritual wellness augments medical treatment.

Self-care Should Anchor Your Treatment Plan

Self-care has long been a component of treating a variety of diseases and conditions. The concept is firmly rooted in nursing theory and holds that successful treatments requires patient engagement. For a plan to be successful, it has to be embraced by the patient and taken up into their own hands when the medical staff isn’t there. And although a self-care plan is individualized, it is often comprised of small things a patient can do at home to supplement treatment. Self-care can include the following:

  • Rest. Chemotherapy can make you much more tired than usual. The disease itself can sap energy that is vital to a treatment plan. Ensuring that you are well-rested will give you the power to live as healthy a life as possible during treatment.
  • Healthy eating. Cancer can rob you of your appetite, and chemo can make food taste unpleasant, but proper nutrition is very important during cancer treatment.
  • Exercise. Discuss exercise plans with your doctor, but exercising, walking, and even just getting a breath of fresh air are all components of self-care. Also, stretching has been proven to help reduce stress and tension, as well as help people find a strong connection and balance between the mind and the body. Even something as simple as stretching your lower back and work wonders.
  • Engagement with hobbies and family. The overwhelming nature of a cancer diagnosis and treatment can cause isolation and disinterest in the things that make you feel good. Hobbies and time with friends and family — where you are your disease are not the center of attention — are potent ways to build up your wellness.
  • Mindfulness of treatment goals. Self-care extends to attitudes about treatment. Positivity is important , but so is a realistic outlook. Discuss options with your physician, understand your treatment goals and keep a focus on attaining them.

During this time, some people even find alternatives to help them relax as much as possible, ranging from massages to meditation and products like CBD oils. Although CBD (cannabidiol) is also found in marijuana, it is actually derived from hemp, meaning it doesn’t contain THC. In short: CBD oil will not get you high; instead, it provides a relaxing “euphoria” akin to a “runner’s high.” Always talk to your doctor before beginning anything of this nature, and check around online to find out which oils might work best for you.

Spiritual Wellness Involves More Than Prayer

A concept related to self-care, spiritual wellness fits into your treatment puzzle as a way to attain peace with your disease and your battle against it. Spirituality can arm you in your treatment plan – not to say that there is scientific evidence supporting divine intervention in medical concerns, but there is a strong psychological power in prayer. Spiritual wellness can reduce anxiety and depression — two states that are counterproductive to treatment.

Those more spiritually attuned tend to be more optimistic overall about their condition and open to possibilities. The positive effect of spirituality, when coupled with self-care, can even help deal with chronic pain , such as is caused by cancer.

Can you simply pray pain away? Unfortunately, It’s not that easy. But there is an interconnectedness between spirituality, emotional well-being and pain perception.

Self-Care and the Safe Use of Opioids

Another critical component of self-care relates to the effect opioid pain relievers can have and their role in cancer treatment. Pain during cancer treatment can become incapacitating . While the usual World Health Organization’s “pain ladder” contains a scale of one to 10 (mild to severe), some cancer patients claim off-the-chart pain. Pain management is essential not just for patient comfort, but to keep a patient functional so treatment can be pursued. Extreme pain may require the use of opioids, but as long as you communicate openly with your doctor and are aware of the risks , it’s possible for these pain relievers to play a safe role in your treatment.

Self-Care and Your Eyesight

According to, taking care of your eyesight during cancer treatment is incredibly important. Although it’s not often mentioned to many cancer patients, chemotherapy and radiation can result in blurry or decreased vision, so taking steps to care for your eyes should land somewhere near the top of your self-care checklist. suggests using over-the-counter medication to keep eyes hydrated and to remove contact lenses before treatment. Talk to your doctor for additional steps you can take to protect your vision.

Self-care, spiritual well-being and the safe and informed use of pain medicine, can help cancer patients persevere through treatment. All of these methods center on the patient, so it’s crucial for patients to be engaged in their care.

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