Survivorship: Living and Thriving Beyond Cancer

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Survivorship: Living and Thriving Beyond Cancer

At MemorialCare we understand that living and thriving beyond cancer requires continued care and surveillance. Establishing a follow-up care plan with your doctors is a vital component of the recovery process. If you have been treated for cancer it is important to work with your medical team to address how often you should be seen and what tests might be needed moving forward. 

There are more than 12 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today. Although the initial cancer care may be complete, there is still physical, emotional and psychological healing to be done. Everyone’s experience is different, therefore it is important to customize your plan to address individual needs. This includes providing services such as fitness and exercise programs, a cancer support group, nutritional counseling, and oncology rehabilitation, all designed to improve quality of life and promote wellness and well-being. 

While you can’t change some breast cancer risk factors—family history and aging, for example— the American Cancer Society suggest these ways to help lower your risk of breast cancer, or the progression of breast cancer:

Watch your weight.

Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk. This is especially true after menopause and for women who gain weight as adults. Having more fat tissue can increase your chance of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels.

If you’re already at a healthy weight, stay there. If you’re carrying extra pounds, try to lose some. Evidence shows that losing weight may lower breast cancer risk. Losing even a small amount of weight – for example, half a pound a week – can also have other health benefits and is a good place to start.

Exercise regularly.

Many studies have found that exercise is a breast-healthy habit. The difference in risk between the most active and the least active women is typically around 25%. In one study from the Women's Health Initiative, as little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman's risk by 18%. Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.

The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week - or a combination of both. Also don’t cram it all into a single workout – spread it out over the week.

Limit alcohol.

Research has shown that women who have 2 to 5 alcoholic drinks daily have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who drink only 1 drink a day or none at all. Studies have found evidence that links even low levels of alcohol consumption to an increase in breast cancer risk. As little as 3 to 6 glasses of wine a week has been shown to slightly increase breast cancer risk.

Limiting alcohol is especially important for women who have other risk factors for breast cancer, such as breast cancer in their families.

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