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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

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.