Muscles and fitness were all in a day's work for Dale Linton, a sales honcho at a health club in New York. Then at 46, a diagnosis of prostate cancer put his strength to the test. “I saw two radiologists, three urologists and two oncologists,” says Dale. Yet the South Orange, NJ, resident still didn’t know what course to take. With time passing, he became anxious.
Then, says Dale, “I decided to take the offensive—I’d played football and done martial arts; it made sense.” He opted to have surgery and then follow up with his physician. But that was just one part of his plan. The other? “I asked [myself] what I could do to help myself.”
That meant stepping up his healthy habits to show cancer he meant business—and his efforts have paid off. Ask your healthcare team if his strategies are sound for you.
Make it easy to eat well. A low-fat diet high in vegetables and fruit—one that avoids excessive amounts of meat and dairy products—allows people with prostate cancer to actively participate in their treatment, according to a review in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
To stay on track, Dale thinks ahead, planning his meals for the next day: “You don’t have to write it down. Just focus on three square meals. For instance, ‘Breakfast will be oatmeal and a banana; lunch, a burrito and salad; and dinner, vegetables with turkey or some other lean meat.’” Between meals, he keeps it simple: “Grab fruit, nuts, yogurt or a protein bar. Drink green tea and water throughout the day.”
Exercise is key. According to a study of nearly 50,000 men that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, vigorous exercise seemed to slow the progression of prostate cancer in patients age 65 or older. What’s more, aerobic exercise has been shown to help beat cancer-related fatigue.
“Exercise helped me mentally and physically,” says Dale, adding, “You don’t need to join a gym. If you have a floor and four walls, you can exercise.” And all it takes is 10 minutes: “In succession, do 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 crunches. Do this three times a week. You’ve started!”
Take 10 for meditation. Regular meditation can reduce anxiety and chronic pain. It works for Dale, who says he’s calmer, more focused and not as easily upset about small things, like missing the train in the morning. “When I’m finished meditating, I’m refreshed, and I start my day at a relaxed pace.” Here’s Dale’s routine, which he does morning and night:
- Set a timer for 10 minutes. Turn off your phone and eliminate any other distractions.
- Sit erect on a straight-back chair. Place your feet flat on the floor.
- Take two deep breaths.
- Begin concentrating on your breathing.
- If thoughts enter your mind, say to yourself, “Not now.” Refocus on your breathing. “If you’re trying to manage something as huge as cancer, meditating gives you the opportunity to let your natural energy take its course,” says Dale. “You just want to be in the moment. Don’t think about cancer. Just breathe.”