6 Ways to Mind Your Mind During Cancer

6 Ways to Mind Your Mind During Cancer

We all know that a cancer diagnosis can be life-changing for everyone. Its impact isn’t just reserved to the physical changes experienced by patients, but also the mental health toll it can have on patients, families, friends, and entire communities. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, our team at Bag It would like to share some helpful tips for you and your loved ones to ease your journey to survivorship. 

Number one

Change your environment (even for a short while)

Take a vacation with a loved one. Vacations offer many mental health benefits, including reducing depression and anxiety. Your vacation doesn’t need to be extensive; even a weekend road trip can help reduce stress. A study found that “a short, three-day leisure trip reduced perceived levels of stress and reduced levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol.” Another option is to take some time to enjoy nature. A 15-30 minute walk outside offers a chance to get some fresh air and reset. Maybe a stroll at the park or a hike on a trail might do the trick.

Number 2

Take advantage of support programs in your community

Support groups are a safe, confidential space to share experiences and connect with others navigating similar challenges. They are often available in person or virtual, and you may find one at a local religious group, cancer center, or local cancer nonprofit. Studies have shown that attending a support group can lead to a better quality of life due to improved mood, self-image, and increased coping ability. 

Number 3

Take some time to count sheep

Sleep plays a vital role in how our bodies recover. A lack of adequate sleep has previously been thought to result from depression, but “growing evidence suggests that poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression.” Inadequate sleep can also lead to anxiety disorders and may become an added source of worry and hyperarousal, which is a key contributor to insomnia. So find a bedtime each day that works for you. Wind down with some relaxation techniques as part of your bedtime routine and maximize comfort with a great mattress, pillow, and bedding. Your body will thank you for it.

Number 4

Let’s get physical

Exercise offers so many benefits beyond just building muscle and burning calories. Moderate exercise “relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.” No matter your age or fitness level, 30-minutes of moderate exercise five times a week can make a lot of difference. You`ll feel more relaxed and see a change in your self-image. Physical activity is also essential for managing some of the side effects of cancer, including fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues. It also plays a role in survivorship by reducing inflammation and joint pain.  

Additional information can be found in the booklet Living Well with Cancer and Beyond.  So find a fun activity that works for you, and get started today!

Number 5

Form your squad

People face so many challenges daily, and these challenges get even more complex after a cancer diagnosis. It’s natural for people to retreat alone and deal in silence, but it’s not always the healthiest route. Find family members or close friends you trust as members of your support network. Social interactions are good for our overall physical and mental health. Cancer doesn’t have to be the focus of every conversation, and you have the right to determine what you feel comfortable sharing with others. A laugh with friends or dinner at your favorite restaurant can also offer a greater sense of well-being and relieves pent-up stress or pain.

Number 6

Talk to your provider

It’s ok not to be ok. You are not alone. If the challenges around you become overwhelming or you find yourself in a dark place, never be ashamed to seek help. Talk to your provider or find a licensed mental health professional near you. If you have insurance, you can often find a provider in your network by visiting your insurance plan’s website. You can also visit the Bag It Resource Center to find reliable resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are available 24 hours a day, everyday, Call: 1-800-273-8255 or Text: “HELLO” to 741741

Sources

Lifeskills Behavioral Health. 2022. Social Connection & Healthy Activities | Mental Health Well-Being. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Four reasons to take a vacation. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Unity Point Health. 2022. 5 Powerful Benefits of Joining a Cancer Support Group (Infographic). [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Suni, E., 2022. Mental Health and Sleep | Sleep Foundation. [online]  [Accessed 6 May 2022]

Bag It & Tucson Cancer Conquerors Invite You To The Survivor Breakfast

Bag It & Tucson Cancer Conquerors Invite You To The Survivor Breakfast

Join Us As We Celebrate You!

Survivor Day Breakfast 2022 logo

WHEN:  Sunday, June 5th, 8:00-10:30 AM

WHERE:  Community Foundation Campus (5049 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85711)

Read Tucson.com’s article about how this Breakfast honors cancer survivors.

Bag It Cancer and The Tucson Cancer Conquerors are teaming up to celebrate YOU on National Cancer Survivors Day.

Please join us for this FREE event thanks to our friends at Pfizer.

The Survivor Breakfast will start with a quick morning stretch, some amazing food from Scratching The Plate Kitchen and Catering, an educational session from Oncologist Dr. Rachel Swart, and an inspirational message from Bag It founder Sherri Romanoski.

All survivors are invited to bring 1 guest. Please make sure to register for yourself and your guest. Registration ends May 20th. Space is limited, register today!

Scan QR code to register.
Or go to:
bit.ly/survivorbreakfast

Survivor Day Breakfast QR code

Thank you to our sponsor!

Pfizer logo
4 Tips To Improve Your Medical Records Management

4 Tips To Improve Your Medical Records Management

Be prepared for every visit.
Manage your healthcare better.

April is National Records and Information Management Month! Keeping comprehensive and accurate medical records can empower you and your healthcare team to make the best decisions for your care.

So much of what we do for our health happens outside clinical settings. When you can track appointments, tests, nutrition and more over time, you and your healthcare team will have the right information and tools to manage your health. And, bonus, you will be more engaged in your overall care and prepared for each healthcare visit.  Every detail stored and provided is vital because all the accumulated information can contribute to proper diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.

In honor of this month, Bag It would like to share a few tips to help you be great at your healthcare records and information management. And to show you the perfect tool to keep everything organized in one place, we give you a look at My Companion Guidebook.

Tip #1

Request copies of all your medical records and test results to store in  one of Bag It’s tools, My Companion Guidebook. You can refer back to them and provide a backup copy if they get lost or are not accessible by a different healthcare provider.

Tip #2

Most providers use various electronic health records systems that are not compatible and don’t share your information between them.  By keeping accurate copies of all lab work, treatment plans, etc., you can help manage the flow of information from providers and improve the quality of care.

Additionally, Bag It’s My Companion Guidebook (see portals page) will help you juggle the various usernames and passwords for different patient portals.

Tip #3

Use the My Appointments Summary Log in My companion Guidebook to write down your questions in advance of appointments. Make sure you fully understand what you are being told then write down the answers provided and any other notes on what was discussed during the appointment. Make sure you understand next steps needed for follow up care, next appointment, etc.

Tip #4

Sometimes, it can be tricky remembering everything discussed with your doctor. Take notes and/or ask if you can make a recording. Save the recording and notes by appointment dates for review later. This can help you remember what you talked about and be a quick reference material for family and friends.

companion guide and bag it contents

Bag It’s My Companion Guidebook–The Perfect Tool To Keep You Organized

Use My Companion Guide to store medical info, healthcare and personal contacts, reports/scans/labs, calendar items, insurance info, notes and questions for the doctor, track side effects and symptoms, etc.

Maintaining this information and all the paperwork on an ongoing basis will make this an easy go-to reference for you, caregivers and family, and doctor visits.

The easy-to-use forms can be filled in by hand or use the fillable PDF format found on our website to print, save, and update later and share electronically with others as you see fit.

Cancer advocacy, storytelling, and survivorship with Dr. Veronika Panagiotou

Cancer advocacy, storytelling, and survivorship with Dr. Veronika Panagiotou

Dr. Veronika Panagiotou photo

In this episode of Bag It’s podcast, Your Guide Through Cancer, host and Executive Director, Mindy Griffith chats with Dr. Veronika Panagiotou, who currently serves as the advocacy and program manager at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.  She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few days after celebrating her 25th birthday. Eight years later, she uses her cancer diagnosis and the knowledge she has gained through the process to empower other cancer survivors to tell their stories and support their advocacy.

Listen To Podcast button
It’s Cancer Prevention Month

It’s Cancer Prevention Month

Blog image

We wish we could say that all cancer is preventable if you just follow these steps, but that is not the case. However, research has shown that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed can be attributed to preventable causes. That is why February is dedicated to cancer prevention. 

Knowing the actions we need to take and actually taking them, does often require change in our lifestyle. Some of the actions we can take might feel a little easier such as not getting too much sun exposure, skipping the tanning bed, and making sure to have sun protection on when you are exposed. Some actions might feel more difficult like maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, making different food choices and exercising regularly. A clean bill of health will show you the effort is worth it.

 

 

Wellness Walk

These behavior changes are listed as the top contributing factors for cancer prevention:

  • Quit smoking: (this includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes) Tobacco use has been shown to increase the risk of developing 17 different types of cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese as an adult increases a person’s risk for 15 types of cancer. Talk to your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.
  • Be physically active: Being physically active reduces risk for nine types of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week. 
  • Limit alcohol intake: Order smaller portions and drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage.
  • Get regular screenings: American Cancer Society cancer screening guidelines by age.
  • Get available vaccines: The Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly decrease the risk of several cancers including cervical, throat, tongue, anal, and other genital cancers. The Hepatitis B vaccine decreases the risk for liver cancer.
  • Protect your skin from the sun: limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., make sure to wear sunscreen, clothing that covers your skin, and avoid tanning beds.
  • Know your family history: Early detection can be key in life saving treatment. Knowing your family history can help you and your doctor plan for regular screenings (which may be recommended earlier with a known family history).
  • Follow a healthy diet: AICR’s New American Plate, (⅔ whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans, ⅓ protein), emphasizes foods that can reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.
There are lots of programs that can help you with weight maintenance, quitting smoking and alcohol intake. Talk to your doctor for any recommendations they feel might help. AICR’s website offers healthy recipes that contain cancer fighting foods. 

If talking with your family about their health history feels difficult, practice with a friend first. Remind them that knowing their history can help you with early detection and prevention. If you do not have family available to ask about their history, talk to your doctor about genetic testing that may be available. 

If getting started with activity is a little overwhelming or you don’t know what you like to do, many exercise programs have classes available online. If you find something you enjoy, you are much more likely to engage in activity regularly. Try lots of options and remember to start where you are. 

In this month that focuses on LOVE, show yourself (and those who love you) some love by committing to lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. If you need a little extra support and accountability, you can take the pledge for AICR’s Click, Connect, and Commit campaign which offers a step-by-step guide to incorporate AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations in your everyday routine. You will also find a calendar with small steps you can take every day in February to help work towards your long term prevention goals.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial