By Kate Flaherty
Outreach and Awareness Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
Fighting any debilitating illness strains a person’s strength and mental determination. Uncertainty about the prognosis and how the treatments will affect his or her everyday life can worry a person and make that person believe that he or she cannot overcome the disease. However, doctors and nurses are increasingly recognizing the value that regular exercise has in a patient’s successful recovery. They now recommend that patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for mesothelioma and other cancers get regular exercise in a bid to boost their recovery chances.
In fact, exercising while undergoing cancer treatment boosts significantly with life expectancy and a cancer patient’s quality of life. Many cancer patients become overwhelmed and frightened upon first learning of their diagnoses. They fear that their disease will lead to their deaths and their time with their loved ones will be prematurely ended. They also may be apprehensive about beginning treatments. They may focus on the fact that chemotherapy probably will make them sick and cause them to lose their hair. All that they may be able to focus on is the fact that their lives are about to drastically change as they begin to tackle their disease.
However, getting regular exercise can help people concentrate on something other than their disease and its treatment. Whether they exercise in their own homes or at a facility in their local area, exercising lets them feel like they are in control of their bodies and of their recovery. They can begin to feel empowered and more in control of their emotions as well. Doctors encourage exercises like brisk walking, lifting arm weights, or even light jogging to increase their blood’s circulation. Better blood circulation lets blood heal affected ailing muscles and tissues, as well as assists in carrying the treatment’s chemicals to the affected areas of the body.
Doing some sort of regular physical activity helps people gain a better mental outlook on their own recovery. People with mesothelioma and other cancers may be able to enjoy a more positive outlook and escape depression and fear about their mesothelioma prognosis or prognoses of other cancers. In fact, as they begin to feel more physically fit, their overall mood may improve. Positive mental outlooks have been directly linked to a patient’s quicker recovery.
Working out with a friend or family member also proves to be beneficial to cancer patients. Spouses who work out with their afflicted husband or wife shows support as that person battles the disease. Exercising with the patient also lets that person know that he or she is not alone. That person can vent or talk about his or her treatment and maybe even begin to laugh again.