Tips and Resources for Cancer Patients Looking to Start a Family
You have cancer and you have decided to not let it dominate your life. You are doing your best to plunge ahead with your life’s plans—and growing your family is one of them. Getting pregnant while battling cancer means you will need to take greater steps in making sure you pay attention to self-care and spiritual wellness. Why? Because you can use all the strength you can get—emotional, physical, and spiritual. So here are some tips and resources from Kicking Cancer to help you get ready.
Consider Alternatives to Traditional Conception
A cancer diagnosis is tough for patients and their families, but it does not have to impede your goal for a family. Keep in mind that there are other ways to grow a family outside traditional conception.
- Surrogacy: As Healthline explains, a surrogate is implanted with an embryo from you and your partner’s egg and sperm, so the baby she carries is 100 percent biologically yours. Parents can either go through a reputable agency that provides options fitting their needs and lifestyle, or they can partner with a friend or family member for the process.
- Adoption: Adopting a child who needs a loving family can be a very rewarding experience. Look to find a baby or a child through an agency or participate in an “open adoption,” where you connect with a pregnant woman and maintain a relationship after the adoption takes place. Different states have different laws regarding adoption; explore how the process works where you are.
- Fostering: Becoming a foster parent can be an effective way to grow your family and support a baby, child or teen in need. Like adoption, different states have different rules for becoming a foster parent. You can also adopt through the foster care system, which often costs less than a private adoption.
Making these kinds of decisions can be stressful, so it’s important to make an informed decision that aligns with your priorities.
Prioritize Self-Care in Mind and Body
According to Cancer.net, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer during pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive with cancer, take steps to manage your overall well-being so you have the mental and physical strength to both grow a baby and heal your body.
- Nutrition: Proper nutrition is critical, not only in your battle against cancer but Parents notes it’s also a key in your journey towards conception. Ensuring sufficient vitamins and minerals is paramount, and it’s also important to minimize red meats and processed foods.
- Gardening: Growing healthy fruits and vegetables is important in your fight against cancer and during your pregnancy. Plus, gardening itself is known for being a natural stress-reducer. Sunshine and nature’s peace and quiet offer positive effects for mind and body. Try container gardening if stooping, digging and weeding are too taxing.
- Yoga: Practicing yoga can improve blood pressure and flexibility, making it a very helpful tool in managing the physical tension that comes with stress. There are even yoga classes available specifically for prenatal and postnatal care. Through the practice of deep breathing, yoga also cultivates a spirit of letting go, allowing us to limit the impact of situations that stress us out.
- Right-sized Living: Adding a new member to the home can often mean finding a new place to live with more space. Think about looking for apartments to keep costs down while getting settled with a newborn.
- Goals: It can be helpful to take a look at your goals and find ways to focus on them. Pursuing a nursing degree online can be an excellent way to practice self-care and maintain a sense of purpose during this challenging period. By taking concrete steps toward achieving your goal, you can feel empowered and motivated, even in the face of adversity.
Cultivate a Spiritual Practice for Purpose and Meaning
You don’t have to be a spiritual person to experience the benefits of a spiritual practice. Whether you call your higher power God, universe—or if you call it anything at all—people of all faiths and no faith can find happiness through spiritual practices.
- Going to church: Churches can build a support system through many of life’s celebrations and challenges. You can look for a church in your area with values that align with those you want to instill in your child or programs that help support people in similar situations.
- Meditation: Whether you call it meditation or prayer, the spiritual practice of engaging in stillness is common to many faiths. Meditation is also an excellent means of reducing stress. Consider joining a meditation group, using a free meditation app like InsightTimer or Smiling Mind, or simply go for a quiet walk in the woods.
Making plans for a baby comes with ample anxiety and worry, let alone with a cancer diagnosis on top of it. Hopefully, some of these tips can help ease the worry and stress you may be feeling as you try to grow your family.
Visit Kickin’ Cancer to learn about and support healthy lifestyle changes to reduce incidences of cancer.
Submitted by Phillip Carr