5 ways to beat the winter blues

snowmanThe winter months can often be difficult for many people. With longer nights and colder weather, individuals may feel down more often. This can be an especially difficult challenge when you are also dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Here are some tips on how to beat the winter blues:

1. Eat a healthy diet. Often, people will turn to foods that are high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugar when they are feeling down. Although “comfort foods” that fit this category can be helpful at times, they can also make you feel lethargic if eaten regularly, possibly making the winter blues even worse. Eating healthy can also give you the chance to buy new foods, try new recipes, and spend time thoughtfully putting together a meal. This can be a good idea if the winter weather keeps you in the house but you are looking for a new activity.

2. Get regular exercise. During the winter months, exercise often seems like the last activity you want to do. Staying in bed or under warm blankets may seem more appealing, but exercise is a great way to stay active, release anxiety, and set and reach goals. Exercise can also help you get in a new, recreational routine to follow after all of your responsibilities are completed for the day.

3. Start a new routine. In addition to exercise, starting a new routine with a different activity or practice can also be helpful in dealing with the winter blues. You can sign up for a yoga or meditation class, pick up an activity such as painting or journaling, or even just set some time aside to read a portion of a good book every day. By setting a routine, you can create activities you look forward to doing every day after you are done with work, school, or other responsibilities.

4. Make plans to see friends or family regularly. The winter months also include many holidays. For some, these can be an energizing way to see family and friends. However, others may find holiday get-togethers stressful or tiring. If you don’t feel up to attending holiday get-togethers, it may be easier to make plans to spend time with one friend or family member at a time so you don’t feel lonely by yourself or overwhelmed with a large crowd.

5. Get plenty of sunlight. Though taking a moment to go outside can be more than a little unpleasant during the cold winter months, spending a few moments in the sunlight can improve both your mood and your health. Exposure to sunlight increases your body’s levels of vitamin D, which strengthens your bones, muscles and immune system. Light also helps your brain produce more serotonin, which in turn helps to boost your mood. If you are unable to go outside, consider adding more lights inside your home.

Although the winter months may be difficult for those facing cancer, it is important to remember steps to care for yourself. If you find yourself feeling especially sad or depressed, please contact your health care team. For additional support, you can call the Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 to speak with a licensed mental health professional who can arrange a brief online survey to help you identify areas of distress in your life, as well as offer you support and resources to help you cope with the winter blues.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

6 tips for avoiding a workplace illness this winter

sick at work

Between having allergies in the summertime to catching a cold during the winter, the chances of randomly coming into contact with someone who sneezes or coughs near you are extremely high. Take that same scenario into the workplace and catching your coworker’s cold can often feel inevitable. According to a study by Staples, about 90 percent of office workers went to work sick in 2012, even though they knew they were ill. For anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, being around people who are sick with a winter cold or flu can be dangerous. Below are some tips to avoid catching a cold from your coworkers—and others—this winter.

1. Wash your hands

The tried and true statement repeated over and over again in primary school still applies today. In order to avoid recontamination, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet instead.

2. Hand sanitizer is your best friend

Keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer at the front of the office, the break room and at your desk is a subtle reminder of the importance of keeping your hands clean.

3. Don’t touch your face

For any woman who wears makeup, this is a no brainer. Touching your nose, eyes or mouth with your fingers just spreads germs. Every time you touch your mouth or nose you’re transferring bacteria and viruses between your face and your hand. “Self-inoculation” is one of the most common ways that germs wind up spreading from sick people to frequently-touched surfaces.

4. Ask your doctor about the flu shot

Many doctors stand by getting the shot because it’s your best chance at not getting the flu. Access to flu shots are increasingly growing too, from your local pharmacy like CVS to your local department store like Target. Be sure to talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot. If you are unable to get vaccines because of your treatment, try to encourage your coworkers to get their flu shot to help you avoid contracting the virus.

5. Use disinfecting wipes on commonly shared items

Some commonly shared items include your phone, desktop, computer, keyboard and mouse, copy and fax machines, elevator buttons and break room items such as coffee pots, microwave buttons, sink area and table top.

6. Stay at home if you feel sick

With the option of teleworking offered at many jobs today, there’s no excuse to still come into work knowing you’re sick.

Click here for more resources on living healthy with cancer.

Posted in Living with Cancer | 1 Comment

5 tips for coping with loss during the holidays

C. Tolkmit

C. Tolkmit

The phrase “the most wonderful time of the year” is synonymous with the holiday season. There is even a classic holiday song by the same name. But, for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays can often feel anything but wonderful. Holiday traditions and time spent with loved ones can often be painful reminders of what you have lost, whether it’s recent or several years have passed. Rather than comfort and joy, the holiday season can become a time of dread and loneliness. If you are coping with the loss of a loved one, you are not alone. Here are a few tips for managing grief this holiday season.

  1. Consider your traditions. Some traditions or cherished activities can feel too painful to carry on without your loved one. It can be helpful to examine your traditions ahead of time and decide what is best for you and your loved ones. For many, practicing old traditions can be a way to honor your loved one and preserve their memory. For example, eating their favorite holiday meal or making a donation to their favorite charity in their honor.
  2. Allow yourself to feel emotions. Everyone has their own unique grief experience, and everyone draws different emotions from this time. Don’t feel pressure to “hold it together” or hold back sadness for fear of being perceived as a “downer”. But it’s also ok to laugh or smile. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten your loved one.
  3. Set realistic expectations for yourself. With the holiday season comes many tasks and events, such as decorating the house, cooking, shopping and attending parties. It can be helpful to take it easy and delegate some of these tasks to others to avoid feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You don’t have to accept every invitation if you don’t feel up to it.
  4. Take care of yourself. Grief can be exhausting for both the mind and body. Thinking about what you can do to physically take care of yourself, whether it’s extra rest, light exercise or other meditation can give you the strength to face your emotional challenges.
  5. Draw support from others. You don’t have to face the holiday season alone. Lean on family and friends to help you—whether it’s by listening, talking about favorite memories, providing a distraction or just being there. There are also support groups available so that you can talk and connect with others who are facing a similar experience.

The holidays can be difficult when you’re grieving. Please know that you are not alone. If you are feeling alone or are having difficulty managing emotions please call our Helpline at 1-888-793-9355.

Posted in Cancer Support | 1 Comment

The psychology of giving

thanksgivingThe holiday season has officially begun! With the holidays comes the tradition of giving back.

Many people believe that giving back during this time of year is unique to this particular season. However, this is not the case–giving back is something you can do year-round.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

There is a certain psychology behind why people give back and volunteer.  Here are some reasons why people choose to give back:

  • Understanding – wanting to learn new things and obtain new knowledge
  • Enhancing esteem – feeling better about yourself
  • Personal development – acquiring new skills, and testing your own capabilities
  • Sense of community – striving to make the world a better place
  • Humanitarian values – wanting to serve and help others

Celebrating the holidays can be difficult for people who have experienced a major change in their life, such as cancer. During this time families may either want to do too much and wear themselves out, or they may decide to simply skip the holidays altogether. It’s important to remember that traditions may change as situations change, and there can be a healthy balance of celebration and taking the time you need for yourself. It can be helpful to accommodate the circumstances by keeping things simple. Maybe scale back on some holiday activities, and stick to tasks that involve little to no stress.

The holidays can also sometimes intensify feelings of loneliness, isolation and sadness, even when surrounded by family. Remembering the true meaning of the holidays and being sure to express any emotions you may be feeling is important.

Below is a list of tips to help patients, family and friends affected by cancer:

  • Express your needs
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Create new traditions and rituals
  • Keep activities non-strenuous and simple
  • Seek support

Caregivers can also help their loved ones by:

  • Reminding them that you care
  • Giving them space if they need it
  • Offering to help

There are many ways to get involved, make a difference and serve others. You can donate to an organization or volunteer where needed. On Giving Tuesday–which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday–any donation made to the Cancer Support Community will be matched dollar-for-dollar by an anonymous donor, up to the first $15,000. We certainly hope you’ll save the date (Dec. 2) and help us spread the word!

If you are unable to make a donation, there are other ways to give. If you are interested in getting involved and volunteering for your local Cancer Support Community, take a look at our affiliate locations.

Also, if you have ever had a cancer diagnosis, you can also give back by joining our Cancer Experience Registry and sharing your journey.

If you have questions or would like more information, you can also call CSC’s toll free Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 to speak with a call counselor.

From the CSC family to yours–have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and happy holidays to all!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What you need to know about Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, health care organizations, professionals and the community bring attention to lung cancer. Lung Cancer Awareness Month initially began in 1995 as Lung Cancer Awareness Day. However, as the lung cancer community and movement grew, activities to promote awareness also grew, transforming the day into Lung Cancer Awareness Month.imgres

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. In 2015, about 225,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Therefore, it is important to understand a lung cancer diagnosis, risk factors, sign & symptoms and resources for support.

Lung cancer is divided into two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type, accounting for about 85 percent of lung cancers. There are three NSCLC subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all lung cancers and is most often seen in people who currently or formerly smoked.

The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can vary from person to person. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A change in color or volume of sputum (mucus)
  • Harsh sounds with each breath
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, bone or joint pain
  • Bone fractures not related to accidental injury
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Neck or facial swelling
  • General weakness
  • Bleeding or blood clots

Often times, these symptoms do not present themselves until the cancer is in later stages. However, new screening techniques for lung cancer continue to be developed, helping to detect the disease at an earlier stage.

If you would like to learn more about lung cancer, check out the following Cancer Support Community resources for more information:

Also, don’t forget to tune in to Frankly Speaking About Cancer on Tuesday, November 25 at 4 p.m. ET for a special episode dedicated to learning more and raising awareness of lung cancer.

Coping with a lung cancer diagnosis and treatment can be emotionally challenging. But you are not alone! There are many ways to get the support you need. The Cancer Support Community offers resources to help support you and your family through this experience. Whether you are newly diagnosed, a long-time cancer survivor or a loved one, you can call CSC’s toll free Cancer Support Helpline® at 1-888-793-9355 to speak with a call counselor who can help answer questions that you have and link you to valuable information and support.

How will you raise awareness for lung cancer this month? Let us know what activities you have planned in the comment section below.

Posted in Cancer Education | Leave a comment