Cancer and its treatment can be overwhelming. But if you also have other chronic health conditions like diabetes to manage, things get stressful and complicated.
You’re not alone, about 20% of people diagnosed with cancer also suffer from diabetes, and there are many others who acquire the disease due to the side effects of steroids, chemotherapy, or other cancer treating drugs. Whatever may be the case, properly managing diabetes during cancer treatment is critical for your overall health and well-being. Unmanaged diabetes can derail or delay your cancer treatment plan, it also weakens your immune system and puts you at an increased risk for infection during treatment.
So, whether you were suffering from diabetes before cancer or have acquired the disease during cancer treatment, it is important for you to manage your blood sugar levels and keep them within a healthy range.
This article contains 10 essential tips that can help you manage your diabetes during cancer treatment.
#1 Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels Regularly
Cancer treatment drugs like steroids can make your blood sugar levels rise dramatically and unexpectedly, which can lead to hospitalization. So, to avoid complications, it is important for cancer patients to regularly and frequently test their blood sugars and make sure they stay well within a healthy range.
#2 Maintain a Health Journal During Your Treatment
Chemotherapy is often delivered in cycles. This can lead to a lot of fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, especially during and after every chemotherapy session. Therefore, cancer patients should always maintain a journal or health chart of their treatments, medications, and its effects on their blood sugar levels. It can help them and their primary physician create a proper diabetes management plan to avoid adverse health outcomes.
#3 Ensure a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating right is one of the most important ways to keep your blood sugar under control. So, maintain a healthy balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins and stay hydrated. Choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains over refined, processed food varieties, and try to completely eliminate white sugar from your diet. If you find it difficult to develop or inculcate a healthy eating plan in your routine, get in touch with a nutritional counselor for expert help.
#4 Stay Physically Active
Cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, causes a lot of fatigue, which can make you weak and lethargic. However, to stay healthy and to keep your blood sugar levels under control, it is important for diabetics to maintain at least a 30 minutes of exercise routine on all days of the week.
Regular exercise not only helps your body to absorb glucose from the blood and process it, it also helps to elevate your mood, reduce stress, and build strength and stamina. Walking, jogging, and cycling are all good forms of exercise that can help you effectively manage your blood sugar levels.
#5 Take Care of Your Mental Well-Being Throughout the Treatment
Cancer can lead to a lot of added stress. It can make a person go through various mental health challenges including grief, shock, denial, depression, and anger. This leads to the production of stress hormones in the body, which block the effect of insulin and cause a steep rise in the blood sugar level. To stay safe, try to manage and reduce your stress. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help.
#6 Lose Excessive Body Weight
Obesity and diabetes are often linked together. But did you know obesity increases your risk for multiple cancers too? To avoid cancer recurrence and complications like infections, blood clots and more, it is important for diabetic cancer patients to maintain a healthy body weight.
Use healthy lifestyle practices – balanced diet, exercise and medication – to reach your ideal body weight. It can not only help you improve your glucose management, but can also help you to reduce dehydration and your risk of infections during cancer treatment.
If you need assistance developing an eating plan, or incorporating exercise, EPIC can work with you to ensure your hard work is successful.
#7 Quit Smoking and Drinking
Smoking and drinking can have an adverse effect on your blood sugar levels as well as overall health. Smoking also impairs your immune system, thus increasing your infections and respiratory disorders. To stay protected, quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
#8 Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control
In diabetics, high blood pressure is a common concern. When diabetes and high blood pressure team up, they cause damage to your blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening conditions. So, it is important for cancer patients to regularly monitor their blood pressure and keep it within a healthy range.
Balanced diet, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle practices can go a long way in helping you control your high blood pressure. Your doctor may also prescribe you blood pressure medications to support your efforts.
#9 Take Your Prescribed Medicines on Time
It is highly important for diabetics to take their prescribed medicines on time. So make sure you are never missing out on your diabetes medicines. Even if your medication regimen needs a change, due to fluctuations in blood sugar levels due to cancer drugs and treatment, do it only at your doctor’s advice.
#10 Schedule Regular Visits to Your Healthcare Practitioner
Properly managing diabetes during cancer treatment is critical – something your primary care physician is an expert at. Make it a point to go for regular health checkups. Talk to your healthcare team – doctors, dieticians and exercise therapists – about various lifestyle therapies and plans that can help you effectively manage both these conditions and reduce their complications.
At EPIC Health, we can help you effectively manage cancer and diabetes together. Through regular screenings, guided nutrition, and personalized treatment plans, we can help cancer patients, as well as others, suffering from chronic health conditions live healthier, fuller lives.
Schedule an Appointment at EPIC Health Today!