New Years Resolutions

Cancer Resolutions for the New Year

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The New Year, in particular, is a time when our culture encourages us to think back, to look forward, and to consider doing some things just a bit differently this year.

New Cancer Diagnosis?

If your cancer diagnosis is recent, the New Year may seem quite irrelevant, given what is going on. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t want to revel this New Years. Just the same, don’t cheat yourself of realistic and genuine hope in the New Year.

This year will bring much change, so resolve to be kind to yourself and by getting the help you need—every step of the way. You didn’t want this chapter in your life, but it’s here—and it’s an open chapter that you do actually write, even if it seems, at times, like you are just a passive recipient of unwelcome things.

Oncology nurse Karen Raymaakers writes that one of the most surprising things about a cancer diagnosis is how loved ones and the patients themselves deal with it. "They may show unbelievable strength you never knew they had, or be more vulnerable than you knew."

It’s normal to show a variety of emotions, to become overwhelmed, to get angry, and to give in to worry and fear. Knowing this, resolve this year to prioritize not only your physical health, but also your spiritual and emotional health. Here are some resources, just as a start:

Resolutions for Your Bonus Life

For those of you who beat cancer, or are praying that you will continue to do so, there is a site from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that you may want to visit. They have suggestions and New Year’s resolutions for the nearly 12 million cancer survivors in the United States for leading healthier lives.

Here we list the top 5, give them our own spin, and add our own number 6.

1. Get a personal doctor. Go back to a primary care doc if you haven’t. Many cancer survivors feel like they have all the doctors in their life they can possibly handle. But with all that focus on the cancer, someone still needs to be focused on overall health, including cholesterol and heart health, diabetes risks, second cancers, bone health, and those ‘tune ups’ and ‘oil changes’ we all need once we hit a certain age.

2. Get organized. The Hutchinson Cancer Center suggests getting a summary of your surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy doses to your primary care provider. Survivorship programs in your area can help you create a personalized plan for follow-up care to share with your doctor. Talk with your primary care doctor about potential long-term effects of your cancer treatment and your individual risks and what you should look out for.

3. Exercise. If you are having trouble getting started with an exercise program or sticking to it, consider joining an exercise program for cancer survivors.

Check with your local Y to see if they have a program geared to people who have completed treatment. YMCA helps people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body. Here is an example of such a program in Austin, TX.

4. Heart warming and heart-healthy nutrition. Resolve to find at least one new healthy food—a fruit or vegetable, preferably—or a new way of preparing something healthy that you already like, so that it can become a staple in your portfolio this year. Steamed broccoli for lunch, for example. Once the habit takes roots and sets, it will be effortless, which, over a year, can have a huge impact. There’s a catch—it has to be a fruit or vegetable, and you have to love it. Peach cobbler doesn’t count.

5. Resolve to manage any fears of cancer recurrence. The Hutchinson Cancer Center has the following advice: “First, find out your risk of recurrence from your health care provider. Second, remember that risk is based on averages and does not apply to you as an individual; you are a person, not a statistic. Third, consider counseling to help you face your fears and move forward.”

6. Keep seeking and returning to that which replenishes you spiritually. Nurture it. Share it. Let it grow.

Sources

Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/making-and-keeping-new-years-resolutions Accessed December 2014.

Ten New Year's resolutions for cancer survivors. http://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/releases/2010/12/ten_new_years_resolutions_for_cancer_suvivors.html Accessed December 2014.

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