This post is adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
Over the past decade, researchers have made great strides in targeted therapy and immunotherapy for lung cancer, offering hope to patients with the deadliest form of cancer in the United States. In addition to seeking innovative medical care, patients can also make a difference in their experience by the way they approach their illness.
Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, offers his patients three basic principles to live by while coping with lung cancer. These guidelines, he says, allow patients to take control over an aspect of their treatment and increase their chances of tolerating and benefitting from their therapy.
1. Don’t act sick
If you feel well enough to do so, continue your regular activities. Oxnard says his patients sometimes ask him if they should avoid their relatives or go out to public places less frequently while they are undergoing treatment. His response? Just live. It is important to maintain your strength and reserves during your cancer experience, so don’t change what wellness typically means for you.
2. Don’t lose weight.
People are very interested in specific diets that help fight cancer. However, there are diets for individuals trying to prevent cancer, and diets for people who are currently fighting cancer. And these, Oxnard emphasizes, are not the same. For a patient fighting cancer, weight loss can be dangerous. Oxnard advises: “Have ten pounds saved for a rainy day, because you may have rainy days.” Due to the extra energy you burn during chemotherapy, you should “liberalize” your diet and allow yourself to eat whatever keeps your weight stable.
3. Don’t be a tough guy.
Even if you have avoided the doctor for your entire life, it is important to speak up and tell your clinician how you are feeling during and after your treatment. Clinicians do their jobs best when they are fully aware of your experience. If you communicate any symptoms or side effects with your doctor, he/she can work to make you feel better.
Watch Dr. Oxnard explain his tips for lung cancer patients to have a good quality of life: