Staying active might not be easy for a senior citizen in the early stages of mesothelioma cancer, but staying active is the key to staying healthy for as long as possible.
Don’t stop living.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer with no definitive cure, usually striking early in retirement after a lifetime of occupational exposure to toxic asbestos fibers.
Although mesothelioma typically comes with a grim prognosis, recent advancements in therapy have raised the hopes of many families, producing survivors who live well beyond the one-year norm.
Cancer specialists today can tailor an aggressive, multidisciplinary treatment plan that can make mesothelioma into a more manageable disease if it is caught early enough.
Patients Can Help Themselves
There also are things that a patient can do to help make the plan work. Here are a few suggestions:
Stay active as much and as long as possible. This is not a time to withdraw and sit back. It is a time to keep moving. Retain your normal daily regimen as much as possible. You might not be as fast or mobile as you were, but you should try and continue to function normally.
Exercise daily. Find a daily exercise routine that works for you. Stick with it. It might be something as simple is a walk down the driveway to get the mail, or a walk down the grocery aisle, but force yourself to do it every day. When you are feeling bad physically, it might seem easier to just sit on the couch, but get up and walk. Do stretching exercises. Ride a stationary bike. Swim or do water aerobics. Pace is not important. Consistency is. Do something physical.
Engage others. Don’t try and go it alone with this disease. No hiding. Help raise awareness to this rare cancer. Educate others about mesothelioma. Accept help from others, too. Look for answers to your health questions that you will have.
Eat Healthy. Diet is important and a healthy diet helps you remain active. There are foods that discourage cancer progression, and you need to find them. Good nutrition also is important to help with aggressive treatment of cancer.
Join a Support Group. It helps to talk with others who have the same issues as you do, which is important with a rare cancer. You can do this online, on the phone or in person. Sometimes patients who are experiencing the same problems can answer your questions better than the doctors can. They relate well, too.
“Keeping active and fit is important. The more patients walk the better it is for them,” said mesothelioma specialist Dr. Jacque Fontaine at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. “Some patients say `I’m too sick to walk.’ But that’s not the way they should look at it. The more they walk, the stronger they will get, and the better their breathing will be.”
Fontaine did caution that there is a risk in overdoing the exercise, so consult your doctor. Many cancer centers offer fitness assessments and exercise training and can put together a customized exercise plan to stay active.
Tim Povtak is a content writer for The Mesothelioma Center and Asbestos.com.