With an increasing number of cancer survivors, there is a need to facilitate optimal lifestyles to improve well-being, minimise treatment effects and stack the odds against cancer recurrence. A recent qualitative investigation on the meanings of Body Weight, Diet, and Physical Activity to women who have experienced cancer reported that survivors were uncertain about the relationship between cancer recurrence and body weight, with some doubting the links between obesity and cancer. Participants were eager to make lifestyle changes but were uncertain as to how best to initiate this change. Many felt that doctors were not taking their concerns seriously, with one participant explaining her doctor’s unwillingness to bring up her weight – “you’re getting some bad news and people don’t want to bring up weight, you don’t need any more negatives in your life”.
The paper suggests that experiencing a stressful chronic illness may often stimulate reflection and alteration in lifestyle choices, acknowledging that they have a second chance, with one women describing surviving cancer as a “wakeup call to take better care of yourself”. Improvements in education about the role of physical activity and diet in cancer prevention, increased support from health professionals and community cancer groups could help to encourage lifestyle change.
Maley M, Warren BS, Devine CM. (2013) A Second Chance: Meanings of Body Weight, Diet, and Physical Activity to Women who have experienced Cancer. JNEB: 45:(3);1499-4046