Published on March 14, 2013
Laura Beemiller, oncology social worker, discusses the importance of taking care of your mental health after being diagnosed with cancer. Laura suggests exercising to your own individual ability, eating well and reconnecting with things you enjoyed prior to your diagnosis.
Transcript | Coping and Dealing With Life As You Journey Through Cancer
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I’ve got a question for you, Laura, and that is, so, now people are hearing about all the new drugs and they say don’t let it dominate your life. Okay. Then you say, okay, what can we do? Where does exercise and diet—I’m going to keep drinking coffee, whatever it is—where does that come in, what can we do ourselves? You said about, don’t let it dominate your life, but isn’t there evidence that exercise helps? He mentioned about diet. What do you tell people about that?
You have to keep doing the things that we know are healthy things to be doing, regardless if you’re diagnosed or not with a disease. Eating your fruits and vegetables. Exercising. Exercising doesn’t have to be running a marathon; it doesn’t have to be riding in the Pelotonia. It doesn’t have to be doing something that’s mammoth. For some folks, it’s getting out and walking to the mailbox, or it’s walking around your neighborhood. It’s walking around the shopping mall. Or, maybe, it’s just kind of doing some exercises that a therapist gave you sitting in a chair.
I think you have to stay active to some degree. I think you also have to have that component of not just the physical piece of things, but you’ve got to take care of this up here. This plays a mammoth part in how you deal and cope and manage with anything in life. And now that you’ve been diagnosed, potentially with a disease that is going to be something you manage for a while, and you’ve got caregivers and support people—I was astounded but the number of hands that came up—you need to all manage this up here because that’s going to affect how you manage the treatment.
And that’s again eating and exercising, getting outside. I had one patient that said, well, I was worried about getting in the sun too much, so I’m not leaving the house at all. Well, that’s terrible. I’m like, get outside on your porch for a little bit every single day. You have to kind of reconnect with everything you liked to do before you were diagnosed. Don’t give those things up. And if you weren’t doing some things, you may want to incorporate them into your life now. I think those things play a huge role in your life.
And look for your support. This room is filled with support people and organizations and agencies and systems. If you weren’t somebody that reached out to that before, because, maybe, you didn’t need it, or you’re not sure if you want it, take a look at that, because, again, all of that affects how you deal with the medication and the management of everything.