While changes in your diet, exercise routine, or sleeping pattern won’t treat your advanced ovarian cancer, they can help you manage your symptoms and leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Nutrition and Diet
Eating right can be hard during cancer treatment, especially if you’re receiving chemotherapy. You may feel nauseous or your sense of taste may change. You may also experience unexpected weight loss or gain.
A dietician can help you work through some of the dietary side effects of treatment and recommend a healthy eating plan.
Some studies suggest that eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods may help increase survival time in women with advanced ovarian cancer. Although this research isn’t conclusive, eating a healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to start feeling better. Some dietary tips for advanced ovarian cancer include:
- Try eating small portions every 2 to 3 hours.
- Eat at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and at least 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day.
- Start juicing fruits and vegetables if you’re having trouble chewing or swallowing.
- Avoid greasy, high-fat foods.
Ovarian cancer patients often suffer from severe fatigue during treatment. Fatigue is often described as a “bone-weary” exhaustion that won’t go away with sleep.
Fatigue can make it difficult for women with advanced ovarian cancer to want to exercise. But exercise can actually help lessen feelings of fatigue associated with cancer treatment.
Some studies have found that women with higher levels of physical activity after diagnosis lived longer. Studies have also shown that regular exercise can help people treated for cancer feel better physically and emotionally.
If you haven’t been physically active, talk to your doctor about what level of exercise is right for you. You may want to start with just a couple minutes of walking each day.
Some tips for exercising with advanced ovarian cancer include:
- You should workout with a buddy for an extra boost of support.
- When walking, use Nordic walking poles for extra support and stability.
- Make sure to stop during your workout if you need a rest.
Rest and Sleeping
Sleep disturbances (like insomnia), depression, and anxiety are commonly reported in women with advanced ovarian cancer. These three symptoms are all related as emotional distress, as well as pain, and certain medications, can lead to trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
Relaxation can help relieve pain, reduce anxiety, and help you fall asleep. There are many relaxation methods and techniques. Relaxation exercises can be done sitting up or lying down. Just make sure that you’re comfortable in the position you choose.
Here are some relaxation exercises to try:
- Breathe in deeply while tensing a group of muscles. Let the rest of your body go limp. For example, make a fist and stiffen your arms or legs. Hold the position for several seconds. Exhale and release the muscles and move on to a new muscle group.
- Close your eyes and focus on making slow, even breaths. To keep a steady, even rhythm, say silently to yourself, “In, one, two. Out, one, two.”
- Listen to calm, quiet music.
- Close your eyes and think of a peaceful, quiet scene.
In addition to these relaxation techniques, a few small studies have found that practicing restorative yoga may be beneficial for women with advanced ovarian cancer. In one study, women with ovarian or breast cancer reported a better quality of life and feeling less anxious and depressed after practicing restorative yoga for two months than women who didn’t.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, talk to your doctor. They can make sure you don’t have an underlying medical condition such as sleep apnea.
Making simple changes to your current lifestyle can make it easier for you to adjust to your advanced ovarian cancer diagnosis.