The Lifestyle Change Experiences of Cancer Survivors

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Abstract

Background:

Leading a healthy lifestyle not only alleviates the physical problems but also improves the quality of life of cancer survivors. Healthcare professionals should understand the benefits of altering lifestyle behaviors to provide effective intervention programs to assist cancer survivors to improve their health.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to understand the experiences of cancer survivors in changing their lifestyle after a cancer diagnosis.

Methods:

A qualitative descriptive study was conducted on 13 cancer survivors who were sampled purposively from a regional teaching hospital in central Taiwan. Data were collected using in-depth interviews that were guided by semistructured, open-ended questions and analyzed using content analysis.

Results:

The analysis of interview data revealed four main themes: motivation of lifestyle change, exploring ways toward a healthy lifestyle, making adjustments in lifestyle, and feeling the benefits of lifestyle changes. In striving for survival, an unwillingness to bear the suffering from treatment and their acceptance of responsibility and gratitude to family members prompted most of the participants to change their lifestyle proactively. They had received inadequate lifestyle guidance and sought health lifestyle information on their own. After a period of research and self-contemplation, most of the participants adopted a consistently healthy lifestyle, changed their dietary consumption habits, abstained from tobacco and alcohol, and managed emotional problems that were caused by the disease. Participants who changed to a healthy lifestyle realized benefits in the physical, emotional, and life domains.

Conclusions/Implications for Practice:

It is hoped that these findings help healthcare professionals to better appreciate that a cancer diagnosis is a critical opportunity to link the disease to lifestyle choices in the minds of cancer survivors. Healthcare professionals should ask cancer survivors about their lifestyle and then provide appropriate advice and education on healthy lifestyles and related benefits.

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