Resource Blog/Media/MCI Cristian Cancer Treatment HERO


Caring For Yourself is a Vital Part of Your Cancer Treatment

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Being treated for cancer can be taxing on both the body and the mind, experts acknowledge. But patients undergoing active cancer treatment can help minimize any side effects by focusing on their diet, exercise, stress management and sleep.


Resource editors spoke with Adrian Cristian, M.D., who as chief of cancer rehabilitation at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute specializes in treating physical impairments in patients undergoing active cancer treatment and in those who now call themselves cancer survivors. Dr. Cristian stressed the importance of caring for yourself during your cancer journey, especially during active treatment.


Adrian Cristian, M.D., chief of cancer rehabilitation at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute 


RESOURCE: What foods should one be eating while undergoing active cancer treatment?   


Dr. Cristian: A healthy diet during active treatment is an essential component of cancer care. It is recommended that cancer patients consult with a dietician who has oncology experience and can write an individualized nutrition plan. Generally speaking, a diet that is low in processed foods and high in whole foods and plants is recommended.


RESOURCE: What physical activities can help cancer patients during their active treatment?  


Dr. Cristian: Physical activity not only decreases the side effects of cancer treatment, reduces fatigue and lowers the risk of cancer recurrence, it also has a positive effect on mental health. A combined aerobic and resistance/weight training program during active treatment can be beneficial and is something that can be performed safely. Physical activity such as walking on a daily basis could be incorporated into a regular routine.


Prior to starting an exercise program, however, it is important to discuss with your oncologist any specific restrictions or considerations so you can do so safely. A consultation with a physician specializing in rehabilitation oncology can also be very helpful. They can write you a detailed prescription for exercising safely. 


RESOURCE: How can patients manage their stress during active cancer treatment? 


Dr. Cristian: Stress is very common during cancer treatment. Regardless of what’s causing it, some general strategies for reducing stress include:


• Assessing and treating possible underlying anxiety and depression

• Increasing physical activity

• Practicing mindfulness/relaxation techniques

• Addressing sleep disturbances

• Connecting with support groups

• Cultivating positive relationships with family members and friends

• Engaging in positive activities


RESOURCE: What about the importance of sleep during active cancer treatment?  


Dr. Cristian: Sleep disturbances are very common during active cancer treatment. Possible causes include side effects of cancer treatment, urinary symptoms, depression, anxiety and pain to name a few. Sleep disturbances can be characterized by delayed sleep onset, difficulty staying asleep, reduced total time sleeping and early morning awakenings. They can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and impaired physical and mental activities.


It is important to discuss your symptoms with your oncology and rehabilitation team so that they can begin treating any sleep disturbances as early as possible. Some general strategies for improving your sleep include:


• Establishing a regular bedtime routine

• Avoiding caffeinated beverages before bedtime

• Emptying your bladder before bedtime

• Increasing daytime physical activity

• Resisting after-dinner or late-night snacks

• Avoiding intense exercise before bedtime

• Meditating before bedtime

• Lowering the temperature in your bedroom


While every patient’s cancer journey is unique, Dr. Cristian says that nourishing one’s mind and body during treatment can help minimize any side effects. “It can make a real difference in how you feel during your treatment and how you fare after your treatment,” he says.


(Watch Now: “Inspire You: Healing From Within”— As part of #NationalNutritionMonth, Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute’s Inspire You event series focused on the healing power of eating right. The Institute's culinary ambassador, celebrity chef Cindy Hutson, enlisted the help of founding CEO and executive medical director Michael Zinner, M.D., for a cooking demonstration. The audience was treated to samples of two of Chef Cindy's exclusive recipes and had their nutrition questions answered by registered dietician Lupita Townsend.)

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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