COVID-19 is a global crisis and has continued to spread around the globe at a rapid pace. Life during COVID-19 is tough for everyone, especially for people with existing health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and those who had survived after cancer.
Research clinical trials demonstrated that people living with cancer, especially blood cancers are at increased risk of developing more severe complications from SARS COV-2 as they are immunocompromised.
The body's ability to fight off infections or recover from infections get reduced when people are immunocompromised. Also cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants knock your immunity down even more.
Therefore, it is essential to follow all safety precautions and avoid venturing out of the house to reduce the impact and adversity of COVID-19 infection among cancer patients. It is the need of the hour that people with cancer should take charge of their health and take necessary steps to stay fit and healthy during these tough times.
Here are some vital measures which should be followed strictly to improve immunity and prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection in cancer patients.
1. Maintain good personal hygiene and social distancing
Social distancing and good hygiene are the primary and most integral measures to prevent the risk of infection in these COVID-19 times. Whether you are healthy or diseased, it is mandatory to practice below measures:
- Clean your hands properly with water and soap at frequent intervals
- Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes if you haven't washed your hands properly as you may carry a virus
- Clean and disinfect any objects that you tend to touch or you bought from outside
- Maintain social distancing of 6 feet away from the people even at home
- Cover your face or mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose off the used tissue after coughing and sneezing separately
- Restrict the number of people visiting home especially in pandemic as you never know who is the carrier of the disease
- If any of your family members is tested positive with COVID-19, isolate and maintain proper distance with them, as cancer survivors are immune-compromised and higher risk of getting infecte
2. Eat healthy diet
Cancer patients should opt for a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes all essential nutrients and immunity boosting food sources.
- Eat fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables especially cruciferous vegetables like (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) rich in flavonoids which act as antioxidants and protect your body against any kind of infections.
- Increase the intake of Vitamin C rich foods such as banana, kiwis, cherries, pear and oranges as it helps to enhance immunity
- Add anti-inflammatory foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, salmon, and cod liver oil in your diet
- Avoid oily, spicy, deep-fried processed foods
- Include spices and herbs with anti-viral properties such as garlic, ginger and turmeric
- Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water
- Consume yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and vinegar in daily for maintaining gut health
3. Be physically active
It is essential to exercise regularly to stay healthy and fit. Exercise improves strength, balance and body function. It will also help to maintain healthy weight and reduce fatigue, thereby improving the quality of life of cancer patients.
Research studies indicate that exercise can also reduce the chances of side effects such as nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy (cancer treatment).
While exercising you should keep some things in mind such as:
- Avoid vigorous activity and opt for light exercises such as walking and stretching
- Consult your physician for selecting an exercise program based on your strength, stamina and flexibility
- Stop physical activity, if you feel pain while exercising
4. Pay attention to your mental health
Taking care of your mental health is the best possible way to stay positive and happy during this pandemic. You should follow below practices to cope mental stress and anxiety:
- Meditation: Cancer patients normally worry about relapse but the additional risk pf coronavirus (COVID-19) infections increase their anxiety and stress. Meditation is a great way to cope up with these stressful thoughts. It's always better to set aside some quiet time for meditation, prayer, deep breathing which can help manage cognitive anxiety.
- Exercise: It's always better for patients to look after their well being. Exercise is the best way to lighten your mood.
- Medication: If anxiety is taking a toll on your daily life it's better to talk to your doctor. Some short-term medications can help to manage anxiety, stress and insomnia.
- Staying connected: You should seek emotional support from your friends or family, if you are facing mental health issues
5. Monitor yourself regularly for any signs of infection
You should monitor yourself regularly for COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, and shortness of breath. If any signs or symptoms appear, self-isolate and consult your physician or nearby health care facility for testing and treatment. 6. Talk to a physician for COVID-19 related doubts
As a cancer survivor, it is essential to get regular checkups and screening tests with your primary care physician and oncologist. In COVID-19, when it is difficult to get in person consultations, you should use telecommunication medium for regular screening.
Also, you should share your concerns and multiple queries related to COVID-19. There are few questions patient you need to ask your physician such as:
- What is the risk of getting COVID-19 based on your current medications and condition?
- Which changes should be made in their regular medication and treatment plan?
- How to self-care if you have COVID-19 or have any new symptoms?
- What are the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
Cancer is hard and these unprecedented times make it more frightening and tough. Even after you have passed several hurdles in your diagnosis and cancer treatment, you have to learn how to stay safe and make your way through life as a cancer survivor.
One of the best ways is to maintain your physical and mental well being. Eating a healthy diet with regular exercise and meditation can help lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Following the above mentioned 6 steps will surely help to safeguard your health during these days of social distancing.
Also read https://www.admaconcology.com/2020/11/24/cancer-and-covid-19/ for more information.