Wellness and Healthy Behaviors

As a childhood cancer survivor, healthy lifestyle behaviors and overall wellness are paramount to managing potential side effects and achieving a higher quality of life! It is essential to live healthily – both physically and mentally – and maintain a balanced life by incorporating an effective stress management system to navigate survivorship and all its related issues. Family members of childhood cancer survivors are so often affected by the impact of the trauma and the cancer treatment, and sometimes even the continuing effects of significant chronic health issue management. Maintaining healthy habits helps the body heal and continues to strengthen the body and mind.

Caring for a Healthy Body and Brain

Taking care of one’s body and brain keeps a person strong and supports physical and mental health. Caring for and keeping a body and brain healthy is important for performance, cognitive function, and higher quality of life. This is important for everyone, but it is more critical for survivors and their families.

Staying Healthy Through Diet and Physical Activity

Healthy Living

How To Stay Healthy

Teenagers: Taking Care of Yourself

Eating Well

Nutrition for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Nutritional Counseling for Survivors

Nutritional Concerns of Childhood Cancer Survivors

Dietary Intervention May Reduce Chronic Fatigue

Survivors and Poor Adherence to Dietary Guidelines

Genetics and Survivor Risk of Developing Obesity

Role of Nutrition in Prevention of Cardiotoxicity

Sleep Disruption in Pediatric Cancer Survivors

The Relationship of Cancer, Treatment, and Sleep

Trauma and Sleep

Better Sleep for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Encouraging Good Sleep Habits

Sleep Well

S is for Sleep

The Sleep Song

Elmo Isn’t Sleepy

HealthCare Toolbox: Sleeping Problems

Physical Activity for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Role of Exercise in Pediatric & Adolescent Cancers

Parental Involvement in Exercise/Diet Intervention

Physical Activity

Returning to Sports After Treatment

Improving Physical Activity in Pediatric Cancer Survivors—Engaging Parents

Keeping Your Young Athlete Healthy

Empowering Survivors to Engage in Physical Activity

Fatigue, Physical/ Functional Mobility & Obesity

Physical Activity May Improve Cognition for Survivors

Physical Activity & Neurocognitive Problems With Survivors

Chemo Brain and Cognitive Side Effects

Stem Cell Transplant & Cognitive Effects

Daily Living Skills Development By Age

10 Ideas for a Family Fresh Start: Improve Cognitive Skills

Understanding the Teen Brain

The Teenage Brain: Under Construction

Addressing Cognitive Impact of Brain Tumors

Late-onset Cognitive Impairment and Modifiable Risk Factors

Enhancing/Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children

The Ultimate Executive Dysfunction Self-Help Guide

Understanding Adult Executive Function Disorder

The Problem of Pain in Childhood Cancer Survivors

Routine Pain Screenings Important for Survivors

Pain in Children: Management

Best Practices in Pain for Children

Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain After Cancer Treatment

Chronic Pain After Childhood Cancer

Pain in Long-Term Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Healthy Mind/Effective Coping Strategies

Many childhood cancer survivors continue to experience health issues and cognitive challenges, in addition to the normal stresses of life. The burden of ongoing stress can worsen these cancer late effects. It is important to find ways to monitor stress levels and develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress and maintain optimal health.

What is Wellness

Useful Wellness and Mental Health Apps

Self Care

What Self-Care Means When You’re Chronically Ill

Playbook for Stress

Mindfulness Practices for Families

Sesame Street Monster Meditations with Headspace!

Mindfulness and Health Institute

Mindfulness in Pediatric and Adolescent Patients With Cancer

The Power of Mindfulness

How to Teach Spirituality to Kids of All Ages

Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications

How Spirituality Can Benefit Your Health and Well-Being

Laughter is Medicine: The Benefits of Humour for Sick Children and Their Loved Ones

The Science of Laughter

The Psychoneuroimmunology of Stress Regulation in Pediatric Cancer Patients

Yoga for Pediatric and Adolescent Patients With Cancer

Animal Yoga

More Than Just a Game: Yoga for School-age Children

Yoga for Teens

Popular Apps to Teach Kids about Yoga and Mindfulness

Realistic Expectations/ Maintaining Balance

Setting and managing reasonable expectations is a skill that many in today’s world struggle to do well. It is easy to understand that survivors and families impacted by childhood cancer have a more difficult time managing day-to-day expectations, along with chronic health issues and its related stress. Having realistic expectations of oneself, and balancing the different aspects of life, helps keep a person centered and able to determine what is reasonable, rather than becoming overwhelmed or burned out.

Improving QOL Through Wellness Practices

What Is a Spoonie? The Spoon Theory of Chronic Illness

Frailty & Quality of Life in Adult Survivors

The Wellness Booklet

Restorative Mental Health Days in the Workplace

Art of Caregiving: Living a Life of Balance

Prevention/Healthy Alternatives

A person can consider various aspects of self care that complement the basics of eating well, exercising, getting quality sleep, good stress management, and maintaining healthy relationships. Research supports the value and positive impact of massage, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, and art/music therapy. Additionally, research is finding some concerns with some common everyday household products that contain potentially harmful chemicals. Many items, such as cleaning products and hair/ skin care products, contain harmful carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that potentially can harm someone with a history of cancer. Further, survivors should exercise great caution if considering marijuana, CBD, and/or tobacco products because of their medical history. It is wise to become aware of, and consider, both positive alternative therapies and the removal of potentially harmful products.

Protect Kids from Toxic Chemicals

Endocrine Disrupters and Reproductive Health

Safe Alternatives to Toxic Household Products

Seven Alternatives to Toxic Cleaning Products

Ten Personal Care Items I Stopped Buying For Natural Alternatives

Predicting Tobacco Use Among Adolescent Survivors

Vaping and Cancer

Tools to Quit Smoking

Medicinal Marijuana and Children

U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain

Smoking and Cannabis Use Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

Marijuana and Teens

Is Cannabis Harmful for Children & Teens? AAP Policy Explained

CBD Use in Children

Young Adult Survivor Interest in Alternative Medicine

Aromatherapy for Kids: What’s Safe and What’s Not

Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?

Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression

Aromatherapy In Treating Chronic Pain

Acupuncture in Children and Teens

Acupressure and Acupressure Bands and Seeds

Acupuncture for Kids' Pain and Anxiety

Acupuncture for Pediatric Pain

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should survivors and parents of survivors maintain a healthy mind when continuing on the survivorship journey?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. As you experience heightened stress, your physical health will respond to it. Stress can affect a person in many ways, and coping with that stress in healthy ways leads to positive mental and physical health.


Why is sleep so important, and how can I make sure I practice good sleep habits?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly one in four childhood cancer survivors had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleep is crucial for the body to heal, rest, and recover. Ensuring good quality sleep helps a variety of bodily processes function correctly. Disrupted sleep, and sleeping less than needed, may result in sluggishness and/or grogginess. Sleep deficiency is associated with several chronic health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. Additionally, sleep deficiency increases the risk of injury.


What is mindfulness, and how can it benefit me?

Mindfulness is taking time to be present, intentionally noticing what is happening inside and outside of ourselves, and accepting what we observe. Mindfulness practices can help survivors and their families acknowledge and accept difficult emotional experiences. It can also help survivors and their families embrace changes that may provide an increased sense of control so that healing can begin. It can be highly beneficial for those dealing with difficult situations, complex emotions, and/or anxiety by providing an opportunity to stop for a time and just be present – without judgment or worry. It allows time to breathe and center, which helps regulate the nervous system. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that mindfulness can lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It may even help people cope with pain.


How can exercise benefit a childhood cancer survivor?

Exercise is especially beneficial to childhood cancer survivors. According to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, research has shown that adult survivors of childhood cancer who engage in regular vigorous exercise have better long-term health and typically live longer than those who do not.

Active children, teenagers, and young adults have better:

  • Quality of life
  • Heart health
  • Lung health
  • Bone health
  • Attention and memory
  • School performance
  • Sleep

They also have fewer chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue


How can I explain to my friends that sometimes I just can’t keep up with them? Some days I can do a lot, but other days I barely can get out of bed. They can’t see what it’s like. My late effects really are invisible.

A woman with invisible disabilities wrote a blog to describe how chronic illness and disabilities can affect the amount of energy required to do tasks on a given day.  She used spoons as a metaphor to represent a day’s available capability, where each spoon represented a concrete amount of energy. Due to variance from day to day, survivors may need to ration their “spoon energy” selfishly rather than attempt to keep up with others.  For instance, it may take “one spoon” to get out of bed, eat breakfast, and get dressed for the day, while the same tasks may take “five spoons” on another day. If a person only has “ten spoons” total for a given day, using five spoons to accomplish morning tasks can make the day challenging! Meeting friends for coffee may be important, but it may be the only thing a person can do that day. On other days however, time with friends may not cost as many “spoons,” allowing for a more balanced day similar to one’s peers. Spoon theory is an easy way to help explain the complicated concept of the variance of capability from day-to-day when someone lives with invisible disabilities.