Health Hub: Not Just Surviving
A cancer patient’s journey of survival doesn't end after getting the "cancer-free" all-clear scan. "That is a moment for enormous celebration, to be sure," says Florida Hospital Medical Group's Dr. Nathalie McKenzie, a board-certified gynecologic cancer specialist. "But we want cancer survivors to do everything they can to optimize their overall wellness to reduce the chances of their cancer recurring, and to live full, healthy lives."
Dr. McKenzie emphasizes that poor nutrition, bad health habits and stress can increase risk for recurrence. A cancer survivor herself, she acknowledges that lifestyle changes can be difficult, especially after going through a cancer battle. "I believe in being aggressive about treatment and survival," she says. "My patients are women being treated for some of the most difficult cancers. When they come through to the other side, I want them to feel truly well, and for their lives as cancer survivors to be as abundant as possible."
New habits, Dr. McKenzie points out, are essential in going beyond survival into a thriving next chapter. These include:
You are what you eat, especially after enduring cancer treatment. Limiting red meat and switching to a plant-based diet with five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, increased beans and whole grains and an overall reduction in fat and salt intake is the way to go.
You don't have to train for a marathon, just force yourself to get moving for a small part of every day. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes each day can make a huge difference.
This seems obvious, Dr. McKenzie says, but it's really the most essential thing on the list. Multiple studies have shown that smoking significantly increases the chances for cancer recurrence, and not just at the site of a patient's original cancer.
There has also been research indicating that alcohol leads to increased recurrence rates after treatment. Why risk it? If you do drink, cut way back.
"I tell my patients that I always have my boxing gloves on, fighting for their lives, and the fight doesn't end after surgery or treatment," Dr. McKenzie says. "Every cancer survivor should talk to their doctor about how best to optimize their survival."
Dr. Robert Holloway and Dr. James Kendrick of Florida Hospital Gynecologic Oncology welcome Dr. Nathalie McKenzie. With ovarian, uterine and gynecological cancer survival rates higher than the national average, the practice offers comprehensive care from screenings to the most advanced surgical and radiation oncology options, along with ongoing support for survivors and their loved ones. For more information, visit NewCancerDoctor.com.
Florida Hospital Medical Group is the Orlando area’s most comprehensive multi-specialty medical group practice with more than 425 board-certified physicians and surgeons in more than 40 medical specialties.