Dr. Shoba Kankipati, board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist at Epic Care, Partners in Cancer Care in Antioch, Brentwood and eight other East Bay locations, has identified three key ways that survivors and their family and friends can declare independence from cancer.
“Getting my patients through the last treatment is only half of my job,” said Kankipati. “Cancer will always be a part of their life, but by no means does it have to embody them.”
For her patients, Kankipati emphasizes three factors in moving forward from a diagnosis: nutrition, exercise and support.
“It may sound elementary, but taking control of your diet is a huge step in controlling your health,” said Kankipati. “Eating natural, less processed foods can be crucial to your body healing after treatment. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it, it doesn’t belong in your body. From one day to six years past your diagnosis, properly fueling your body is beneficial.”
Patients might not be able to immediately return to three meals per day. Instead, Kankipati encourages eating five smaller meals throughout the day, as suggested by the American Cancer Society. It’s also important to get at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day and stick to whole grains: “Superfoods like blueberries and quinoa provide the necessary nutrients like vitamins and minerals, to sustain a healthy life.”
Kankipati also advocates physical activity to fight fatigue, build muscle strength and even ward off depression. “Exercise may start off slow for some, but that’s OK. Even a walk around the block is good for your body’s recovery,” she said. The goal she sets for her patients is to work up to 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. “This doesn’t have to be time spent in the gym. You can play outside with your grandkids or take your girlfriend for a walk. Claiming this time as your own and making it about what you can do now will help keep up the routine.”
The journey from diagnosis to survival can take an emotional toll on anyone. “Cancer can raise a lot of questions and generate fear, and that’s completely normal,” said Kankipati. “Finding a group or a counselor to talk you through these emotions can and will help you move forward. Support groups help survivors talk to other survivors and connect in a way only they can. It’s just another reminder that no one is alone in this process.
“Every journey and story is different. Being a survivor doesn’t happen one day; it takes hard work. And with smart lifestyle choices and the right tools and support, it can mean a life full of possibilities and continued health.”
For more information on Epic Care, Partners in Cancer Care, call 925-778-0679 or visit www.epic-care.com.