Recovering after treatment

After treatment, you may just want to get back to everyday life. But you may still be coping with the side effects of treatment, adjusting to physical changes or dealing with some difficult emotions. Recovery takes time, so do not rush it and try to be kind to yourself.

Some people choose to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being. Even if you had a healthy lifestyle before cancer, you may be more focused on making the most of your health.

If you have health problems, such as kidney disease, it is important to check with your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

If you have had part or all of a kidney removed, it is a good idea to look after your remaining kidney or kidneys. Reducing your risk of high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes will help protect your kidney.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, choosing to stop is the healthiest decision you can make. Smoking is a major risk factor for smoking-related cancers, including kidney cancer. It also increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. If you want to stop, your GP can give you advice.

I get out of breath some days. The key is to listen to your body. I can’t run, bike or swim any great distance, but I’m building up. Everyone’s different.


Eat healthily

Eating a healthy, balance diet will give you more energy and help you recover. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 portions a day), and less red meat. Try to limit the amount of salt you eat. This is because salt can raise blood pressure and make the kidney work harder. Follow any advice you have been given by a dietitian.

Drink plenty of water

Drink at least 2 litres (3½ pints) of non-alcoholic fluids a day. This will help protect your kidney. Plain water is best. Avoid bottled waters that are high in salts, such as sodium or potassium, as they make the kidney work harder.

Stick to sensible drinking guidelines

These recommend that both men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week. It is a good idea to have a few alcohol-free days each week. There is more information about alcohol and drinking guidelines at

Keep to a healthy weight

Keeping to a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer, heart and kidney problems and illnesses such as diabetes. Your GP can tell you what your healthy weight is.

If you need to lose weight, ask your GP for advice. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Reduce your portion size.
  • Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Eat less fat and sugar.
  • Be more physically active.

If you are following a weight-loss diet, avoid high-protein diets. These can stress the kidney. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids.

If you have lost weight during treatment, your GP or a dietitian can give you advice about gaining weight.

Be physically active

Being physically active can help you manage your weight and reduce stress and tiredness. It also reduces the risk of other health conditions. It is important to avoid injury to your kidney. You should usually avoid contact sports, such as rugby and football, and extreme sports such as skydiving.

Reduce stress

There are ways to feel less stressed. Being physically active, eating well and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress. You could also try to make time to do things that you enjoy or that make you laugh. Some people find it relaxing to meditate or to start a new hobby. You may find it helpful to write a journal or online blog.

I took up ballroom dancing, and I really enjoyed it. You can’t think of anything else – just your feet. It was a good day when I could do that again.


Medicines and supplements

Some painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can damage the kidney. Ask your doctor for advice before taking over-the-counter medicines or buying vitamin or mineral supplements.

Get your blood pressure checked regularly

High blood pressure does not always cause any symptoms. But it can be bad for the kidneys. It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is raised, your doctor can prescribe tablets to control it.

Urine infections

Urine infections can usually be easily treated. But if they are ignored, they can cause problems with the kidneys. If you have symptoms of a urine infection, it is important to see your GP.

Symptoms include:

  • smelly or cloudy urine (pee)
  • pain or burning when passing urine (peeing)
  • feeling you have to pass urine (pee) urgently.

Back to Beginning to recover

Lifestyle and well-being

Looking after yourself and doing some physical activity can be an important part of your recovery.