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Tips and Tricks for Managing Your Cancer Treatment and Daily Routine

Medically reviewed by Christina Chun, MPH on November 8, 2017Written by Mary Baucom on November 8, 2017
cancer life hacks

It’s true: The purpose of cancer treatment is to treat the cancer. But that’s not always the reality at first. In fact, you’ll likely start feeling worse once you begin treatment, and the chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy starts doing its job.

Don’t give up hope. Here are five practical tips for managing your cancer treatment and keeping up with your daily routine.

1. Create a chore sheet for family members and friends

You’ll likely be experiencing more fatigue and exhaustion because of your cancer. And, not to mention, going through treatments isn’t exactly easy either. A major part of beating cancer is retaining your energy, which means giving your to-do list to your loved ones.

First, make a list of everything you do that somebody else can help with. Think about all aspects of your day, from meal prep, to doing laundry, to picking up your kids from school, to taking out the trash.

Next, assign a chore to your family members, close friends, and even neighbors. (Nothing says that your school-aged kids can’t be given the task of emptying the wastebaskets from around the house and putting them in the trash bin outside.)

Last, type this chore chart up and send it to helpers outside your family, like your friends and neighbors. Print the same chart out and put it in a prominent place in your home — like the refrigerator door — so all family members know what needs to get done. You’ll feel better just knowing that the housework is out of your hands.

2. Mix up your eating habits and try some new foods

Your favorite childhood comfort food — whether it’s a plate full of macaroni and cheese, a bowl full of chili, or even a piping hot biscuit fresh from the oven — may not sound appetizing when you’re going through cancer treatment. Oftentimes, the foods you loved before your diagnosis are now disappointing to your taste buds.

Cancer and treatment side effects, such as nausea and mouth sores, can make it harder to eat. It’s common to not feel hungry at all and to want to avoid food altogether. But remember food is fuel, and now is the most important time to feed your body with nourishing foods.

One way to entice your appetite is to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Instead of eating three larger meals, break up the day with five to eight smaller meals or snacks. Sipping on bone broth, a highly nutritious stock made from simmering animal bones with water for several hours on the stove or in a slow cooker, is an exceptional way to energize your body. Get the recipe, courtesy of The Healthy Foodie.

Also, instead of using this time to focus on things that don’t sound good, think of this time as an opportunity to explore new foods. Try nourishing, vitamin-packed smoothies such as this tropical, ginger-infused Tummy Soothing Smoothie from Ambitious Kitchen. Add some extra seasoning such as herbs to plain chicken breast like Skinnytaste does in this Grilled Garlic and Herb Chicken and Veggies dish. Or make a ginger-based soup like this Anti-inflammatory Broccoli, Ginger and Turmeric Soup done in the slow cooker by Sweet Peas & Saffron.

3. Manage your prescriptions on your smartphone

Your cancer treatment will likely include multiple prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. This running list can be overwhelming to you and your caregivers. While you used to have to file and keep all your medication-related paperwork, there’s now a simpler solution.

Download the Walgreens app to keep your ongoing list of medications organized. Refill on-the-go when you scan your prescription label, set up auto refills, and check your order status. Set pill reminders to ensure you take each medication on time.

Getting your prescriptions organized and filled has never been easier!

4. Take it easy and do all your shopping online

In today’s world, there’s no need to leave your home, drive to the store, and park your car just to pick up a few items from the store. Everything you could possibly need — from home essentials to Fido’s puppy treats — can be bought online.

Another advantage of online shopping is never forgetting something while you’re at the store. Put items in your online shopping cart as you need them. Running out of shampoo? Add it to your cart. Want a new blanket to make yourself more comfortable? Find your favorite options and add them to your cart as well.

Having your shopping done in the convenience of your own home is one way to simplify your life and your needs. It eliminates a lot of hassle and frees up your time so you can really relax and recharge.

5. Do something good for yourself

It’s easy to let cancer become your No. 1 priority. But your diagnosis shouldn’t control all aspects of your life. Practicing self-care is vital for your well-being, especially during this time of your life.

Remember to set some time aside each day, or at the very least each week, for doing things that you enjoy.

Are you part of a book club? Continue to keep up with the readings and meetings. (Getting together with friends is another way to stay positive throughout your treatment.)

Do you like to garden? Get outside and dig in the dirt or attend to potted plants in your home.

Are you an avid yogi? Find some free yoga videos online like Yoga with Adriene and practice in the comfort of your own bedroom. Of course, always ask for a doctor’s recommendation before starting any new physical activity or exercise program. They will be able to provide you with specific exercises to fit and match your needs and goals.

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