5 New Year’s Resolutions for Cancer Patients

Making and implementing New Year’s resolutions that can improve your lifestyle while undergoing cancer treatment can seem too difficult to tackle. But it can be done! Working towards maximizing your emotional and physical strength during this time is an excellent goal with long-term benefits.

There are several ways you can improve your lifestyle, helping you to better cope with the challenges involved in battling cancer. Here are five ideas and how you can incorporate them into your routine this new year.

1. Regular Exercise

For many cancer patients, the idea of following an exercise program while you’re going through cancer treatment is overwhelming. But even small amounts of exercise – such as walking around the block or 15 minutes of yoga – will provide long-term benefits.

According to the American Cancer Society, research shows that exercise is safe for most cancer patients. Planning exercise into your daily routine can help with how you feel physically and emotionally. Patients reported:

  • Better physical functioning
  • Less fatigue
  • Less anxiety

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment, you should begin an exercise program at a lower intensity and build it gradually. The National Cancer Comprehensive Network urges patients to engage in a moderate workout program such as a daily walk combined with strength training using light weights. Moderate exercise is proven to boost immunity, which is essential for patients battling cancer.

If you regularly exercised before cancer treatment, try not to compare your current pace and workout intensity to what you used to do. Listen to your body and be as consistent as you can.

2. Engage in Meditation

Meditation is recommended for cancer patients because it helps manage anxiety, sleep problems, pain, high blood pressure, and fatigue. You can choose from several methods of meditation – a few examples are: mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, or prayerful meditation. Although side effects of these techniques are rare, experts say patients should inform their oncologist of any complementary therapies, such as meditation, before starting. There are resources for helping you learn how to meditate if this is something new to you. The Mindfulness Center and Hope Connections for Cancer Support, both in the Bethesda area, offer programs that can help you with understanding how to use meditation to produce benefits during and after cancer treatment.

3. Follow a Nutritious Diet

Food may not always sound good, or side effects of treatment can make it hard to eat. But taking in the right amount of calories is still really important for keeping up your strength and maintaining a healthy weight. What you eat while going through cancer treatment may be a little different from your typical diet, but try to keep it as nutritious as possible.

When possible, select healthy sources of fat including avocado, olive oil, nuts and fish such as salmon. Stay away from trans fats and foods high in cholesterol, such as processed snacks, fast food, and shortening. Here are a few suggestions that can help you with following a healthy diet during cancer treatment and beyond:

  • Eat protein every day. It will help you feel full, maintain your strength and rebuild tissue during your cancer treatments. This might include nuts, yogurt, cheese, or eggs.
  • The American Cancer Society suggests eating at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables. Colorful vegetables and fruits and plant-based foods contain many natural health-promoting substances. During cancer treatment try to cook vegetables before eating them.
  • Use liquid meal replacements if it’s hard to get the right amount of nutrients every day. This is especially helpful if you have dry mouth.
  • Try eating smaller meals more often so that you can keep up your strength without feeling overly full. Keeping food in your stomach can also counter nausea.

If you find that some of your favorite foods don’t taste quite right during cancer treatment, that’s OK. Eat healthy foods that taste good and make sure to keep them stocked up in the house.

4. Cultivate an “Attitude of Gratitude”

Because of the mind-body connection, a grateful, positive attitude can make a decided difference in how you feel. Thankfulness helps people deal with adversity and is consistently linked to greater happiness. Cure Today magazine encourages cancer patients to find three things each day for which they are grateful. Write them down so you can revisit them when times are hard. This habit will grow stronger the more you engage in it.

5. Let Others Help You

You don’t often hear of resolutions that include “allowing others to help me.” But as a cancer survivor, this is something that you can commit to trying. It’s not only good for you but gives your family members and friends a way to feel like they are helping you. It can also help you avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Allow loved ones to bring you a meal or stop by, even if your house isn’t in perfect order. Joining a cancer support group may also be helpful. These organizations offer the opportunity to share feelings with people who can understand and relate to your situation, and you can do the same for them. Studies show belonging to such groups makes cancer patients feel more hopeful and less anxious. They are available in person and online.

Maryland has an array of cancer support organizations, such as those offered by the Baltimore Cancer Support Group, Hope Connections for Cancer Support, The Mindfulness Center in Bethesda, and the Cancer Support Community. Your oncology team can put you in touch with those who can provide an additional list of cancer support groups available in the Maryland and Washington D.C. communities, even groups that might be for your specific type of cancer.

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Managing the Holidays with Cancer

Even people in perfect health often feel exhausted and overwhelmed during the holiday season; that feeling is often magnified when you’re battling cancer. You may not have the stamina to battle Black Friday crowds, deck the halls and entertain as lavishly as you have in years past, and that’s OK. If you’re a cancer patient try not to overexert yourself, but don’t isolate yourself either. Here are some ways cancer patients can manage and even enjoy the holidays while undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.

Accept Help

When you were diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment, you were probably inundated with offers of help and support. Now is the time to accept those offers. Whether you need help hanging Christmas lights or wrapping gifts, don’t hesitate to ask friends, neighbors and family members for help. Most people will feel honored that you asked, and you’ll probably enjoy both their help and their company.

Tweak Traditions

It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and become overwhelmed. This year, try to focus on the underlying reason for your traditions: Celebrating relationships and enjoying spending time with loved ones. If your tradition involves gathering the family for Christmas dinner, you can achieve that without spending hours in the kitchen. Ask each guest to bring a dish and have a pot-luck, have the meal catered, meet at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Maryland, or move the dinner to someone else’s house.

Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping

One of the most daunting aspects of the holidays is battling traffic and crowds to buy gifts. You certainly don’t have to buy gifts. However, if you want to consider shopping online. You’ll save time and energy, and you’ll probably also save money. Visit sites such as Retailmenot.comOffers.com, and freeshipping.org for online coupon codes. Another benefit of online shopping is that many sites offer a gift wrapping option. You can buy your gift and arrange to have it wrapped and shipped directly to your loved one.

Carve Out Time for Yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed during the holidays, so take care of yourself by taking breaks to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, take a bath, or take a nap. This is a good idea for cancer patients, even when it’s not the holidays. But it’s almost critical during the holiday season.

If it becomes clear the festivities will carry on into the wee hours, it’s OK to excuse yourself and make an early exit. If you’ve accepted an invitation but aren’t feeling well, feel free to send your regrets at the last minute. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. Make your health top priority, and those around you will understand.

You Don’t Have to be Cheerful All the Time

When you have cancer, that fact is always on your mind. For most people, the holiday season is a time for reflection. As a cancer patient, it’s only natural that you’ll mourn your life before cancer and feel anxiety about the future. Anger, sadness and frustration are common, understandable emotions that don’t go away during the holidays. Express your feelings, as your honesty gives your loved ones permission to express their feelings, too. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it’s cathartic to acknowledge that. It’s OK to laugh and to cry.

Celebrate Life, Love and Happiness

You may have cancer, but cancer does not define you. Celebrate and enjoy your life. Whether you spend time with friends and loved ones, volunteer to help others or meditate in preparation for a brand new year, take time during the holiday season to celebrate all the wonderful things about your life, and know that our cancer specialist at Maryland Oncology Hematology are here to help you.

 

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Facts You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer actually refers to two parts of the body: the colon and the rectum. Treatment options are often very similar so they’re typically bundled together when explaining prevention, detection and treatment options for either colon cancer or rectal cancer.

Thankfully because of new technologies and greater awareness of screening, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for decades. Here are some things you should know about how to reduce your personal risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Can be Genetic

About one in five people who develop rectal or colon cancer have a close relative (parent, sibling or child) who has had colorectal cancer or a certain kind of colon polyp called adenomatous. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with this type of polyp you should talk to your doctor about starting colorectal cancer screening sooner than the typical age of 50.

There can also be a genetic cause of colorectal cancer for about 5-10% of colorectal cancer patients. If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed, especially if they were diagnosed before the age of 45, you may want to talk to one of our cancer experts about a Genetic Risk Assessment. Knowing whether there are genetic changes present can help your doctor with recommending preventive measures and screening in the future.

Other Risk Factors For Developing Colorectal Cancer

There are quite a few other factors that can play into whether you’re at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some you can control while others you cannot.

Risk factors you can control to help prevent colorectal cancer include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use

Risk factors for colorectal cancer you cannot control in addition to your family history include:

  • Age – Your risk increases after the age of 50.
  • Race – African Americans have the highest death rate from colorectal cancer compared to all other races.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – Those with Type 2 Diabetes are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Regular Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives

Even if you don’t have a family history, colorectal cancer specialists recommend that adults get screened between the ages of 50 and 75. The older you are, the higher your risk for developing the disease. While a colonoscopy is the most commonly used colorectal screening process, there are several other options such as:

  • Sigmoidoscopy every five years. The doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps, remove them and have them tested. Unlike a colonoscopy, this test doesn’t require you to have anesthesia.
  • Virtual colonoscopy every five years. This test does not require anesthesia either. A doctor takes X-rays of your colon, and a specialist looks for signs of cancer.
  • Barium enema every five years. For people who can’t safely have a colonoscopy, a liquid is inserted into the rectum that allows trained technicians to see abnormal growths on an X-ray.

You Can Reduce Your Risks

 

Whether you have a family history of colorectal cancer or not, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the disease. These lifestyle changes include:

  • Get screened. Screenings find polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.
  • Exercise. Overweight people have a higher risk of colon cancer.
  • Watch your diet. Eating lots of red meat or processed meats (like hot dogs) may increase your risk of colon cancer.
  • Don’t smoke (or stop smoking). Smokers have a higher risk of colon cancer. An added bonus of quitting smoking is that you will also reduce your risk of developing many other diseases and cancers.
  • Limit alcohol. Heavy drinkers have a higher risk of colon cancer.

Even people who are active, eat healthy diets and have no family history of colorectal cancer may develop the disease. If you start to experience any unusual bowel movements, pain or excessive bloating be sure to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner or gastroenterologist. If they find colorectal cancer present you will need to see a colon cancer specialist for treatment. If you live in or near Maryland, Maryland Oncology Hematology has nine locations making it possible for you to meet with a colorectal cancer specialist near you.

 

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What Is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancers, as you may have guessed, affect areas of the head and neck. These cancers aren’t common (they account for about 3% of all malignant cancers in the United States). And, according to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancer diagnosis have been declining for decades. So have mortality rates.

Continue reading “What Is Head and Neck Cancer?”

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4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Cancer Research Trial

Have you wondered whether there might be a new or different cancer treatment option available to you through cancer research trials? Or maybe your doctor has talked to you about the possibility of participating in a clinical trial for your cancer treatment. (Read more to understand “What is a Clinical Trial?”) Here are four things that patients and family members should feel free to ask their oncologist and research team before agreeing to participate.

Continue reading “4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Cancer Research Trial”

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PRESS RELEASE: Maryland Oncology Hematology is Now Offering Advanced Radiation Services

Maryland Oncology Hematology is Partnering with Adventist HealthCare to Offer Comprehensive Care that Includes Advanced Radiation Services at the White Oak Cancer Center

Dr. Luqman Dad will lead The Center of Advanced Radiation Oncology and provide state-of-the-art radiation services and technologies to patients in the region.

Maryland, October 20, 2020 – Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH), the largest independent oncology practice in Maryland and a member of The US Oncology Network, has partnered with Adventist HealthCare to open The Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology at White Oak Cancer Center.

Led by radiation oncologist Luqman Dad, MD, the Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology at White Oak will work alongside the team at Maryland Oncology Hematology to offer compassionate, patient-centered, state-of-the-art radiation therapy. The center will offer seamless delivery of high-quality precise treatment by expert specialists, providing some of the latest in techniques and technologies, including: SBRT, IMRT, IGRT, SRS, and Brachytherapy, along with access to hyperbaric oxygen chamber for late toxicities and radiosensitization of recurrent tumors. The Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology will be located in the White Oak Cancer Center, where patients can have access to a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to cancer including medical oncology/hematology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, PET/CT imaging, genetics, research, nutrition, palliative care, social work, physical, occupational and speech rehabilitation.

Dr. Dad brings years of leadership and academic study to The Center of Advanced Radiation Oncology at White Oak Cancer Center. Born at the original Washington Adventist Hospital, Dr. Dad grew up just down the road from the White Oak Cancer Center and attended Paint Branch High School. He completed his undergraduate and medical studies at Boston University. In 2011, Dr. Dad returned to Maryland following the completion of his post-graduate training in Radiation Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The Washington Metropolitan area remains close to his heart.

Medical Director, Radiation Oncology

 

“I’m proud to live in a community with great culture, diversity, and opportunities where we can make a tremendous impact and deliver top-notch cancer care,” said Dr. Dad, Medical Director at The Center for Advanced Radiation at White Oak. “At The Center for Advanced Radiation, we’re excited to provide personalized, innovative cancer treatments using the latest technologies.”

 

Dr. Luqman Dad serves as the Medical Director at The Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology at White Oak. He performs numerous procedures to treat patients at all stages of cancer care and is skilled in advanced radiation techniques, including stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), intracranial radiosurgery (SRS), proton beam therapy, gynecologic high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, and more. He is board certified in radiation oncology.

Through the affiliate partnership with the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC), Dr. Dad has access to this new advanced treatment that is only available in select cancer centers nationwide. Dr. Dad is able to see patients at the White Oak Cancer Center and collaborate with the team at MPTC if proton beam treatment is indicated for the patient.

Dr. Dad has a special interest in breast, prostate, lung, head and neck, gastrointestinal, lymphoma, and central nervous system malignancies. He has served as a lead physician in helping develop national clinical practice parameters for SBRT, as well as principal investigator on industry-sponsored clinical trials. Dr. Dad is an active member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), where he serves on national committees and helps ASTRO in the global outreach of radiation oncology to underserved regions of the world.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to partner with Maryland Oncology Hematology to provide cutting-edge, evidencebased, patient-centered care to this community,” said Dr. Dad. “I believe that the dynamic location, supported by strong infrastructure and the future vision for the White Oak corridor as a hub for science and technology that will place The White Oak Radiation Oncology Program in a position for tremendous growth and success.”

Opening in November, The Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology at White Oak Cancer Center will be located at 11886 Healing Way Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD, 20904. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit MarylandOncology.com or call 301.343.3892.

 

About Maryland Oncology Hematology

 

Maryland Oncology Hematology (MOH) is the largest independent oncology practice in the state of Maryland, with more than 45 practicing clinicians devoted exclusively to providing comprehensive, compassionate, and high-quality cancer care. MOH specializes in medical, gynecologic, hematology, cancer genetic risk assessment, clinical trials and research, and patient ancillary programs. MOH believes it is beneficial to provide cancer therapies in a community setting, close to patients’ homes and support systems. The physicians are supported by a talented clinical team sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. For more information, visit MarylandOncology.com.

 

 

About US Oncology Network

Maryland Oncology Hematology is a practice in The US Oncology Network (The Network). This collaboration unites the practice with more than 1,200 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care to patients — close to home. Through The Network, these independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes. The Network is supported by McKesson Corporation, whose coordinated resources and infrastructure allow doctors in The Network to focus on the health of their patients, while McKesson focuses on the health of their practices. Maryland Oncology Hematology also participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies.

 

To be distributed to local media:

Practice: Maryland Oncology Hematology

Contact: Mark Lamplugh

Phone : 561-762-9729

Email : mark.lamplugh@usoncology.com

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A Cancer Survivor’s Guide to Returning to Work

Chances are you or a coworker will face the question of returning to work after cancer treatment. Cancer now affects 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men, while the survival rate for many cancers is increasing.

While the risk of cancer increases with age, it also affects many younger adults still in the workplace. An estimated 46% of patients diagnosed with cancer are between the ages of 20 and 64.

Surveys find that most cancer survivors who return to work say that it’s beneficial for their recovery. In addition to needing the income, you may enjoy using your skills and maintaining personal relationships.

For some cancer survivors, it’s gratifying just to have experiences apart from their medical condition.

Your individual needs will depend on many factors, including your specific diagnosis.

Use these suggestions to help you deal with health and career issues if you’re considering going back to work after cancer treatment.

Protecting Your Health:

  1. Follow up. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for aftercare. Let your doctor’s office know if you need to arrange appointments and medications in a way that will have the least impact on your job.
  2. Manage stress. Some cancer patients experience depression and anxiety, in addition to the usual job-related stress. Find relaxation practices that work for you like meditation and physical exercise.
  3. Seek support. Be willing to accept assistance. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers what you need. Reach out to other cancer patients or call your local hospital to find a support group near you.
  4. Understand your rights. There are several government programs and policies that may help you make the transition back to work, including the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. Ask your HR department or contact a social worker or advocacy group for more information.
  5. Guard your privacy. You also have the right to keep your medical information confidential if you wish. Many employers are supportive, but you may sometimes face discrimination. Let your doctor know if you want to avoid any reference to cancer when they fill out forms from your employer.

cancer survivors guide

Readjusting to Work:

  1. Stay in touch. Returning to the office will be easier if you can find ways to stay involved during your treatment. Maybe you can attend some meetings or read industry publications. Maybe you have an office buddy you can call occasionally.
  2. Prepare for questions. You may find that some colleagues are eager to welcome you back while others seem uncomfortable. Rehearse what you want to say about your condition or your time away, so you’ll be ready with a response that works for you.
  3. Reduce your hours. Part-time work is one of the simplest ways to transition back gradually. Many cancer patients experience fatigue, so respect your limits.
  4. Ask for accommodations. Evaluate your workspace and usual tasks. Talk with your employer about modifications that can help you to do your job. For example, you might need to keep your office scent-free to avoid triggering nausea.
  5. Write things down. Some of your symptoms may have more to do with the side effects of your treatment rather than cancer itself. If chemotherapy affects your concentration, make written notes to remind you of any details you might forget.
  6. Change jobs. You may still be able to work even if your current position poses difficulties for your recovery. Research other fields or apply for jobs with less demanding responsibilities.

With skillful communication and planning, you may be able to continue working after your cancer treatment. Talk with your doctor to ensure that you’re well enough to do your job and work with your employer to make any necessary adjustments.

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