Living with cancer

For many patients “cancer” is the scariest word in medicine. After the emotional shock from the diagnosis, patients need to learn how to live with cancer and fight against cancer. Dr. Deva Petrova, who is an oncologist, explains how to live with cancer.


Eat healthy during the treatment

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other cancer treatments can affect your body. Therefore, a healthy diet can help you feel better and recover faster. “During cancer treatment it is important to avoid extreme diets which are low in all nutrients. Instead, focus on a balanced diet”, explained Dr. Petrova, who also added that you should consume the following foods:

  •          Bread, pastries and whole grain cereals,
  •          100% fruit juices,
  •          Half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits,
  •          Eat carrots, almonds, hazelnuts or fresh and dried fruit,
  •          Moderate consumption of sugary foods because during treatment this can lead to increased levels of blood sugar,
  •          Moderate consumption of meat and frequent consumption of fish and seafood.

Eat when you aren’t hungry

Loss of appetite is a common phenomenon during cancer treatment. You might feel as if the food has no taste as a consequence of some treatments. “Despite having no appetite, it is very important to eat proper nutrition”, said Dr. Deva Petrova.

Here's what you should do:

  •          Choose foods with high calories, rich in nutrient like avocados, nuts, beans, seeds and boiled cereals
  •          Eat smaller meals during the day

Don’t wait to get hungry, eat at certain periods instead.

Supplements and nutritional supplements

When you decide to take supplements, first consult your oncologist. “Some herbal products and dietary supplements should not be combined with cancer therapy. Dietary supplements can be recommended for patients who don’t consume nutrients through food. However, they should also be prescribed by a doctor because high doses of these supplements can be harmful”, explained Dr. Petrova. If you eat healthy and consume vitamins and minerals through food, you don’t need additional supplements.

Can I go to work during treatment?

The answer to this question depends on the type of treatment you are getting, the type of cancer, the general health condition and the type of work. The amount of work you are allowed to do depends on how you feel during the treatment. If you don’t have any problems, you can continue with normal activities. “Patients who can work during the treatment are recommended to use pumps for chemotherapy. The pumps are small plastic containers which you can carry on the belt. The pump is regulated for the chemotherapy to leak out within the prescribed period of time (12 hours, 24 hours ...). However, the patient needs to have a cannula for these pumps, which is inserted into a vein in the back of the arm, neck or chest”, explained Dr. Petrova.

Can I exercise during the treatment?

Patients with cancer are advised to be physically active during treatment. “Exercise has a positive effect on body weight, overall form, muscle strength, flexibility and quality of life as well as symptoms such as pain and fatigue. The intensity of the exercises depends on the overall health of the patient. The latest medical recommendations for cancer patients is to practice yoga which has positive effect during their treatment”, said Dr. Deva Petrova.


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