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How to help yourself feel better

A diet, exercise and complementary therapies can all help you feel better and take control of your life after hearing you have metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

Should I change what I eat?

Despite what you may read, there is no ‘cancer diet’ that is particularly recommended once you already have cancer. 
Of course, eating a healthy diet is one of the best choices you can make to strengthen your immune system – whether you have MBC or not. A good diet can help your body fight off infections or viruses. You may find yourself getting sick more often with breast cancer. 
and some cancer treatments can weaken your immune system. 

Being ill is difficult enough without worrying too much about what you eat. 
Foods that might be considered bad for you – like chocolate and crisps – are often a source of pleasure and comfort for many people. Healthy food can take more time to prepare and is more expensive. Just do what makes you feel good.

If you want to change your diet ask your oncologist or nurse to refer you to a dietician, who can help you make positive changes slowly. They can also help you eat well if you have nausea, diarrhoea or other problems during or after your cancer treatment.

Is exercise good for me?

Yes, regular to moderate exercise has been proven to help you physically and emotionally. Even taking a 10-minute walk every day may help with the symptoms of cancer, such as tiredness and poor appetite. Exercise can also help reduce stress, boost sleep, and reduce pain.

With exercise as with all things today: do what is right for you, and what makes you feel good.
You don’t have to limit yourself to gentle stretching – maybe dancing is what makes you feel great! But always listen to your body and be careful not to exceed your limits and cause pain. If you are concerned, you can always talk to your doctor about what type of exercise is right for you.

HOW MUCH and WHAT KIND of exercise works for you will depend on many different things, such as your level of fitness before treatment, the type of treatment you are receiving, the side effects and symptoms you are having. You may need to avoid some types of strenuous movement if your cancer has spread to your bones or you have bone symptoms.

Can complementary or ‘natural’ therapies help?

Many women with MBC have found that complementary therapies can play a big role alongside ‘conventional’ medical care. These treatments can help them cope with their cancer physically – with the side effects – as well as mentally, by reducing depression or anxiety.

You should always inform your doctor about any complementary therapies you are taking, since they could have an impact on your cancer treatment.

Key points to consider about helping yourself feel better

  • There is no specific diet you need to follow, eat what makes you feel good
  • Any amount of exercise can help you feel better in your mind and body, even 10 minutes of walking
  • There are no set limits on your activity level, do the amount of movement that you enjoy
  • Many women like you rely on complementary medical care to help ease side effects and anxiety