Beyond Cancer - Survivorship



Having cancer doesn’t mean you can’t still take control of your general health and wellbeing. By eating well and doing some exercise you’ll help increase your energy levels and keep side effects at bay. Your health care team will be able to provide you plenty of information on staying healthy during and after your cancer and recommend types of diet and books to help. 



Cancer and its treatment put many more demands on your body so eating well is more important than ever.

There is no special eating plan that can cure cancer. For most people with cancer the best way to eat well is to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups every day.

Eating well means increasing your vegetable and fruit intake, particularly dark green leafy vegetables, orange fruit and veg and high fibre fruit and vegetables. These are rich in antioxidants and vitamin A and C. Try and avoid or reduce your sugar and salt intake and reduce your fat intake – unless you are advised otherwise. You may find you don’t want to drink alcohol at all, but it’s best to avoid it altogether if you can. If you do have a drink, try light beer or just half a glass of wine. Giving up smoking will help your chances of your cancer not returning. If you’re struggling, talk to your doctor and contact Quitline 13 78 48 




Exercise is important to keep the body healthy, even though you might feel unwell. Even light exercise can help you feel better, strengthen your body and focus your attention.

If you’ve not done any exercise for a while, it’s important to start off gradually. You might feel you’re limited by your cancer or treatment so check with your doctor first and they can also recommend a good form of exercise for you and how you can start.

If you’re reasonably fit and able, 3-5 hours of moderate physical activity a week is recommended. Some form of muscle strengthening exercise twice a week is also recommended. With cancer it is vital that you stay hydrated during and after exercise. Have a water bottle nearby when you are exercising and take regular small sips.

As exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, studies have shown that physically active cancer survivors have a lower risk of their cancer returning and improved survival compared with those people who are inactive.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be a gym or a class. Incorporating activity into your daily life is a good way to keep fit. Working hard in the garden is a great physical activity and walking to the shops is classed as moderate.  



It is important to discuss with your doctor or specialist the type of exercise you are considering to ensure it is safe. It is best to start slowly and progressing in steps. You can start with a 10-minute walk around the block and build up to 30 minutes. Be careful not to do too much. If you were a regular at a gym before cancer, you may have to drop things down a tad for a while. Here are some other ideas:

If you can’t do a full half-hour,
try three 10-minute walks

Find a walking partner or listen to music
– make it fun

Wear comfortable clothes
and drink water

Try gardening or house cleaning
– both are small workouts

Listen to your body;
don’t exercise if you’re not feeling well

Consider yoga or Tai Chi. They are not aerobic but with the movement and mindfulness you will feel better

“Based on what research tells us, exercise is the best medicine people with cancer can take – in addition to their cancer treatments – to reverse the side-effects of treatment, increase quality of life and extend survival. If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, this pill would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide. Even if it had just a fraction of the benefits, it would be viewed as a miracle drug. Exercise medicine should be prescribed to every cancer patient in addition to their surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.”

A/Prof. Prof. Prue Cormie





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