How Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapists Can Help

The ongoing challenges of life after cancer treatment are not well recognised. Many people believe you're supposed to just pick up exactly where you were before you were diagnosed. You are supposed to head back to your life and resume like it's just another Monday. Except it's not a normal Monday.

Here are ten tips I recommend to help people who have finished cancer treatment get back to living as fully and actively as possible:

1.  Get a physical and functional assessment with a certified cancer rehabilitation physiotherapist: One very important part of recovery from the debilitating side-effects of cancer surgery and treatment is correcting postural changes, muscle imbalances and improving stamina.  A cancer rehabilitation physiotherapist can help you re-educate your body to restore its’ normal balance. If left this can impact other parts of your body, limit function, cause pain, inflammation and reduce your stamina further.

2.  Try to be patient and treat yourself gently: Each person is unique and heals differently. Your recovery speed depends on many things including your pre-treatment fitness level and the type of treatments you had.  

3.  Be proactive about doing things to decrease stress: There is no way to navigate a cancer diagnosis without a tremendous amount of stress. Much of the stress that goes along with a cancer diagnosis is related to the uncertainty that accompanies it. Too much stress can make you feel emotionally battered. Being proactive about doing things that decrease stress is the best way to manage it.  We know things like meditation and exercise can help. Stress can also be greatly reduced when we increase our social and emotional connections. Put simply: TOGETHER WE’RE BETTER. So try to schedule in time to do something you enjoy with the people you love each week.

4.  Let go of the unimportant: Fatigue is being tired – physically, mentally and emotionally and it is the most common side effect of cancer treatment. If some days you are feeling like you can’t get out of bed, rest assured you are not alone. Cancer related fatigue can last for months to years after treatment. It is important that you seek support as if left untreated, it will severely impact your quality of life. Talk to a PINC or STEEL Physio, as cancer related fatigue is manageable with help. It is important to try not to over tax yourself by trying to fit too much into your day – you need to let go of the unimportant and delegate when you can.