Self-Care for Young Adult Survivors of Pediatric Cancer

May 22, 2020

Improve how you care for yourself during times of crisis by creating a personalized self-care plan. We’ll walk you through the completion of this plan with a fillable worksheet that accompanies a 15-minute video/audio.

by Kaitlyn O’Donnell, MSW, LCSW, Life with Cancer Oncology Clinical Therapist

Download PDF Example
Download Fillable Worksheet
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Breathing and Other Meditations

May 3, 2020

Breathing exercises and meditations can tune out mental chatter, calm the body, and quiet the mind which can help manage the emotional stressors of the cancer experience and change the way one is in the world.

Micheline Toussaint, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, RYT

Life with Cancer Oncology Therapist

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March 30, 2020

Dearest Life with Cancer Community Members,

We have missed you…but that’s about to change!

Life with Cancer is moving on-line!

Currently, we have moved about 50 classes to a virtual format (with more to be added) so please check out our Class Registration page at and explore! All classes and programs will be offered through Zoom Pro which is HIPAA compliant. Zoom invitations will be sent through Outlook BCC to protect the privacy of your email. When you sign-in to Zoom to accept your first class and group invitation, you will have the option of identifying yourself with your first name only. NONE of the programs will be recorded.

In addition, Life with Cancer will continue to offer individual video or phone educational consults by our Oncology Nurse Navigators, nutrition consults by our Oncology Certified Dietitians, counseling sessions by our licensed Oncology Clinical Therapists, and fitness consults by our Cancer Certified Fitness Trainer. You can request a consult through the Contact Us tab at or call the Life with Cancer Connect Line at 703.206.5433. As always, Life with Cancer programming is free of charge.

Explore the many ways that Life with Cancer can make your day-to-day life easier and help you connect with a community of people who face many of the same challenges you do.

From all of us, at Life with Cancer.

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How Much and What Kind of Exercise is Needed for a Cancer Survivor

February 5, 2020

For the rising number of cancer survivors worldwide, there’s growing evidence that exercise is an important part of recovery. But how much, and what type of exercise, is needed?

A recent review of research, conducted by an international group of experts led by the University of British Columbia, has resulted in the development of new exercise guidelines for cancer survivors.

The updated recommendations, published today in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, outline specific ‘exercise prescriptions’ to address common side effects, such as anxiety and fatigue, associated with cancer diagnoses and treatment.

In general, the new guidelines recommend survivors perform aerobic and resistance training for approximately 30 minutes per session, three times a week. This is a departure from earlier guidelines, published nearly a decade ago, which advised cancer survivors to meet the general public health guidelines for all Americans — 150 minutes of exercise a week.

“Exercise has been regarded as a safe and helpful way for cancer survivors to lessen the impact of cancer treatment on their physical and mental health, but the precise type and amount of exercise to treat the many different health outcomes related to cancer treatment hasn’t been clear,” says the paper’s lead author, Dr. Kristin Campbell, associate professor at UBC’s department of physical therapy. “In the absence of this information, cancer survivors were advised to strive toward meeting the general public health guidelines for all Americans — an amount of physical activity that may be difficult for people to achieve during or following cancer treatment.”

The new recommendations are based on a substantive review and analysis of the growing body of scientific evidence in the field. Since the first guidelines were put forward in 2010, there have been more than 2,500 published randomized controlled exercise trials in cancer survivors — an increase of 281 percent.

The new paper is just one of three papers published today that summarizes the outcomes of an international roundtable that explored the role of exercise in cancer prevention and control. The roundtable brought together a group of 40 international, multidisciplinary experts from various organizations who conducted a thorough and updated review of the evidence on the positive effects of exercise in preventing, managing and recovering from cancer.

Together, the three papers offer new evidence-backed recommendations for incorporating exercise into prevention and treatment plans and introduce a new Moving Through Cancer initiative, led by the American College of Sports Medicine, to help clinicians worldwide implement these recommendations.

The new recommendations include:

  • For all adults, exercise is important for cancer prevention and specifically lowers risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus and stomach
  • For cancer survivors, incorporate exercise to help improve survival after a diagnosis of breast, colon and prostate cancer
  • Exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema
  • Continue research that will drive the integration of exercise into the standard of care for cancer
  • Translate into practice the increasingly robust evidence base about the positive effects of exercise for cancer patients

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British ColumbiaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin L. Campbell, Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Joachim Wiskemann, Anne M. May, Anna L. Schwartz, Kerry S. Courneya, David S. Zucker, Charles E. Matthews, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Lynn H. Gerber, G. Stephen Morris, Alpa V. Patel, Trisha F. Hue, Frank M. Perna, Kathryn H. Schmitz. Exercise Guidelines for Cancer SurvivorsMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2019; 51 (11): 2375 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002116
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Upcoming Event: Latest Research Findings from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

January 23, 2020

Please join Medical Oncologist, Anne Favret as she discusses the latest research findings from the San Antonio Cancer Symposium held in December 2019.

Facilitator: Laura Kaminski, RN, BSN, OCN
Light refreshments with be provided.

Online registration is required by Monday, February 24th

To register, call 703-698-2526


Life with Cancer Family Center
8411 Pennell St
Fairfax, VA 22031
Thursday, Feb 27 6:15 – 8pm

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Effects of Exercise on Health-Related Outcomes in Those with Cancer

January 23, 2020

In October 2019, three papers were published following an International Multidisciplinary Roundtable hosted by ACSM. One of those papers, a consensus statement, listed specific exercise recommendations for cancer patients and survivors.

This infographic outlines the effects of exercise on health-related outcomes in those with cancer. The chart features evidence-based physical activity recommendations and the associated benefits for specific symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatments.

To download the infographic

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Relaxation Techniques and Mind-Body Practices: How They Can Help you Cope with Cancer

January 21, 2020

Reprinted from Cancer Care

Cancer and its treatment can be stressful for people with cancer and their caregivers. Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer creative ways to reduce stress caused by cancer and to maintain inner peace. For example, some people use these techniques to help them relax as they wait for treatments or test results.

Here are some techniques that can help you cope with the challenges of cancer:

Breathing Exercises

At the core of life is breath. Laughing and sighing are the body’s natural ways of getting us to breathe deeply.

That is why we often feel calmer or rejuvenated after these experiences. Anxiety and stress can make us take short, shallow breaths. Shallow breathing, which does not allow enough oxygen to enter our bodies, can make us even more anxious. Try this four-step breathing exercise.

It can be done anywhere, anytime:
1. Take in a deep breath from your diaphragm (this is the muscle between your lungs and abdomen).
2. Hold the breath for several seconds—however long is comfortable for you—and then exhale slowly.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times.
4. Afterward, relax for a moment and let yourself feel the experience of being calm


Repetitive prayers are a form of meditation. Two other traditional forms of meditation include one-pointed and two-pointed meditation.

One-pointed meditation focuses on a word or sound called a mantra. Many people create their own mantra from an affirming word, such as “peace,” “love” or “hope.” Once you choose a mantra, find a safe, quiet place and repeat it to yourself during 15- to 20-minute sittings. The goal is to relax the mind, which has a natural tendency to jump from one idea to the next—and from one worry to the next. Do not try to force your mind back to your mantra when you notice it has wandered. Simply guide it back gently, accepting that it may stray again.

Two-pointed meditation is also called mindful or insight meditation. With this technique, you relax your mind by focusing on your breath. As your mind jumps around, practice non-judgmental awareness—simply observe the pattern of your thoughts and gently guide them back to focus on your breath. Non-judgmental awareness allows you to separate yourself from emotions and sensations rather than getting pulled into them. One benefit of this type of meditation is that you can practice it while seated quietly or when doing daily activities.

Guided Imagery

This stress-reducing technique combines deep breathing and meditation. As you practice deep breathing, imagine a peaceful scene or setting, perhaps from a memory. Once you are relaxed, you can create a “wakeful dream” in which, for example, you envision pain being washed away or your body becoming stronger.

Many people practice guided imagery exercises while listening to recordings of ambient sounds. These are usually music or sounds from nature, such as waterfalls or ocean waves. Sometimes just listening to ambient sounds is enough to relax your mind and briefly transport you emotionally to a place in which you feel safer and more secure. Other mind/body practices are yoga, tai chi, and Qigong. These techniques are often taught at health clubs, YMCA’s and senior centers around the country.

Finding Additional Resources

Many cancer treatment centers have programs to teach people with cancer and caregivers the basics of relaxation or meditation.

There are a number of easy-to-follow educational books, websites and audio-recordings on this subject that provide step-by-step instructions. Your nurse or oncology social worker may also be familiar with relaxation exercises and mind/body practices, or he or she may be able to refer you to others who can help you learn these techniques.


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Beautiful Breakfast Toasts

January 21, 2020

Feed your breakfast inspiration with this week’s special recipe feature: 6 healthy breakfast toasts. All of these toasts pack a hearty dose of fiber and protein, and many also include heart-healthy fats. Today’s featured toast is the perfect combination of savory and sweet flavors. It’s light and refreshing and works well with any type of berry in season. Berries are particularly high in ellagic acid, a phytochemical that has been shown to have strong cancer-protective properties.


Ricotta, Basil, and Strawberry Toast


  • 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp. ricotta cheese
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, sliced into strips
  • 2-4 strawberries, sliced into thin strips

Makes 1 serving.

Per Serving: 140 calories, 4 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g protein, 135 mg sodium.


March 13, 2018 issue of AICR.ORG

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New Program: Free Oncology Massage in 2020 at Life with Cancer in partnership with Healwell

January 9, 2020

To schedule an appointment, call 703-698-2526 and complete the online intake form.


Three free sessions are available for patients who are in active treatment, or experiencing significant treatment side effects. After your free sessions, you may continue massage therapy at a reduced rate of $60 per session. This rate is also available for caregivers. 


Life with Cancer Family Center
8411 Pennell St
Fairfax, VA 22031

Inova Schar Cancer Institute
8081 Innovation Park Dr, 2nd Flr
Fairfax, VA 22031

Fair Oaks Cancer Center
3580 Joseph Siewick Dr, LL, Ste 005
Fairfax, VA 22033

Inova Loudoun Hospital
44055 Riverside Pkwy, Ste 242
Leesburg, VA 20176

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New Program: Free Acupuncture at Life with Cancer in 2020

January 7, 2020

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO)* endorse acupuncture as a complementary therapy in the treatment of pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The value of acupuncture has not yet been established for dry mouth, fatigue, neuropathy and hot flashes, but limited studies have shown some possible patient benefit. *NCCN and SIO conduct and evaluate innovative research to ensure evidence-based practice focused on improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

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