Lifestyle changes – making positive decisions
After breast cancer treatment, some women choose to make some positive lifestyle changes. It’s not to say you didn’t follow a healthy lifestyle before, but you might now feel you want to focus more on making the most of your health.
Eat well and keep to a healthy weight
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After treatment, it’s not unusual for women to find they’ve put on some weight. This can happen with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, which you take for a number of years. When you’re feeling up to it, you can check with your GP if your weight is within the normal range for your height. We have more information about weight management after cancer treatment including helpful tips.
There’s some evidence that keeping to a healthy weight after the menopause may help reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back. We already know it reduces the risk of heart problems, diabetes and developing some other cancers.
only eat as much food as you need
eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables
eat less saturated fat and sugar
become more physically active.
There’s also more information about healthy eating, which you might find helpful.
Being physically active helps to keep your weight healthy and can reduce stress and tiredness. It helps to keep your bones strong and your heart healthy. There is some evidence that regular physical activity may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back.
Aromatase inhibitors and treatments that cause early or temporary menopause increase the risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis). This is because oestrogen helps keep bones healthy and strong. Keeping physically active, such as walking, eating a healthy diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, and stopping smoking, keeps bones healthy. Our section on bone health has more information.
Some treatments may increase the risk of getting heart problems later in life. Look after yourself by keeping physically active, eating healthily, not smoking and sticking to sensible drinking guidelines. The British Heart Foundation has helpful information and advice.
If you smoke, giving up smoking is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. Smoking increases your risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis) and is a major risk factor for smoking-related cancers and heart disease.
Stick to sensible drinking
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Stick to sensible drinking guidelines, which recommend that women drink less than two units a day or 14 a week. Try to have a few alcohol-free days a week.
Getting help and support
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Different people can help you during and after treatment.
If you need help at home during or after treatment, a nurse or hospital social worker may be able to arrange this. If you have children, the social worker may arrange some help with childcare. We have a fact sheet on childcare that has more information.
A social worker or benefits adviser can tell you about benefits you may be able to claim and help with other costs.If you need help with a wound or wound drain, the district nurses can visit you at home to help with this.
It’s common to have different and sometimes difficult feelings after cancer treatment. But as you recover and get back to your everyday life, these usually get easier to deal with. Talking to family and friends often helps. If you think you may be depressed, or feel helpless or anxious a lot of the time, talk to your cancer specialist or nurse. They can refer you to a psychologist or counsellor who specialises in the emotional problems of people with cancer. Our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 can tell you more about counselling and let you know about services in your area.
Some women find that using some complementary therapies help them to relax or cope with treatment side effects. Some hospitals or support groups may offer therapies such as relaxation or aromatherapy.
Self-help or support groups offer a chance to talk to other women who understand what you’re going through.
Many people get support on the internet. There are online support groups, social networking sites, forums, chat rooms and blogs for people affected by cancer. You can use these to share your experience and to ask questions, get and give advice based on your breast cancer experience.
Our online community is a social networking site where you can talk to people in our chat rooms, write blogs, make friends and join support groups.