Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer made up of many tumors, is rarely controlled by the body’s natural defenses. Treatment, whether chemotherapy or surgery or another form, is the best hope for patients to kill the tumors and help their body thrive.
Cancer treatment is also physically and mentally taxing, which is why patients need both prehab and rehab.
Doctors at the University of Virginia Health discussed the importance of prehab and rehab before and after cancer treatment. One focuses on building the body’s strength to endure treatment. The other helps in recovery after treatment. Completing both can help with survival and quality of life.
If you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma – or if you’re the loved one of a diagnosed patient – learning about prehab and rehab and implementing these practices right away is essential.
Prehab for Mesothelioma Treatment
Let’s begin with prehab. This involves preparing the body for mesothelioma treatment – making it strong enough to endure chemotherapy or surgery. Before mesothelioma treatment, patients can set themselves up for a better chance of success – usually defined by completing a plan, whether it’s a completed surgery or finishing all prescribed cycles of chemotherapy.
Prehab usually involves physical well-being of the patient. The tenets of prehab are physical exercise and diet management. The best time to begin prehab is immediately after diagnosis, giving you time to strengthen your body and improve your lifestyle habits.
Mesothelioma Guide has a webpage dedicated to mesothelioma prehab: what to eat, how much to exercise, and more preparations before treatment begins.
Rehab After Mesothelioma Treatment
Rehab is the more well-known element of medical care, defined by strengthening after a major operation or treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy and even immunotherapy weakens the body.
Chemotherapy targets healthy tissue and blood cells along with diseased tissue and cells. Surgery removes a major chunk of tissue – and possibly an organ or muscle – which takes the body time to adjust and rebuild. Immunotherapy adds a foreign substance to the body, which can cause flu-like feelings of nausea or weakness.
“Many cancer patients who experience pain, limited range of motion, and weakness after cancer treatment often think, ‘It’s my new normal,’” said Dr. Alyssa Mixon, of University of Virginia Health. “But these issues they’re having are not normal. These are things we can address.”
One tip is light strength exercises, such as lifting 5- or 10-pound weights. This not only strengthens the muscles to persist during and after treatment but keeps swelling down.
“During and after treatment, exercise can improve your quality of life and decrease anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disorders,” Dr. Mixon said. “Exercising before and during cancer treatment can help patients better tolerate treatment. Exercise can even reduce the risk of dying from cancer or the cancer from coming back.”
How to Start Prehab and Rehab for Mesothelioma
The best way of implementing prehab and rehab is with the help of a specialist. You and other patients need a rehab doctor and team as part of the treatment plan. You often won’t find a prehab and rehab specialist at a general hospital, but you will at the top cancer centers.
Our registered nurse, Karen Ritter, is a patient advocate who understands the importance of prehab and rehab. She’s a cancer survivor herself and has experienced cancer fights through other family members.
Nurse Karen can help you connect with the best cancer centers to get a full multidisciplinary team for your mesothelioma cancer fight. This team should include a rehab specialist to get your body and mind ready for the journey. Email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like her help finding a cancer center.
Sources & Author
- Facing Cancer? Why You Need Cancer Rehab Experts on Your Care Team Now. UVA Health. Retrieved from: https://blog.uvahealth.com/2022/02/17/cancer-rehab-expert/. Accessed: 02/23/2022.
Sources & Author