3 benefits of journaling for cancer patients and caregivers

Facing a cancer diagnosis or caring for someone during cancer treatment can be extremely stressful. And, when you’re dealing with stress, your emotions, memory and relationships can all be affected. But journaling can help, says social work counselor Tiffany Meyer. “Journaling is an intentional act of honest reflection about yourself and the things going on in your life,” says Meyer. “It can help cancer patients and caregivers navigate one of the most mentally challenging times in their lives.” Here’s how journaling can make a difference — and Meyer’s advice on how to get started. Journaling can improve your memory Cancer and its treatment can sometimes cause problems with short-term memory, also known as chemobrain. A daily journal practice can help you keep track of appointments, conversations or important events that you may have trouble remembering on your own. Journaling can help you process emotions “Writing down your thoughts can help you remember things as well as cope with the range of emotions that comes with a cancer diagnosis,” Meyer says. One way to do that is to write down how you’re feeling — whether it’s happy, sad, anxious or hopeful. “There are lots of things in life we don’t have control over,” Meyer says. “Journaling is one way to take control during chaos.” Reflecting on your emotions and writing them down may help you understand what you’re feeling.  Meyer suggests writing down three things you’re feeling in a particular moment, including any other reflections you’d like to add. Keeping a gratitude journal is another way to get in tune with your emotions. “Write down things you’re grateful for, no...

5 questions about bone health and cancer

Losing bone density is common as you age, when cells that help rebuild bones aren’t replaced as quickly. Because of this, your bones may become thin and full of tiny holes, making fractures more common. While bone loss is a part of aging for many people, certain types of cancer and cancer treatments may lead to bone loss – no matter your age. To better understand bone loss in cancer patients and options for keeping bones healthy, we spoke with Sonali Thosani, M.D. Here’s what she had to say. Are certain cancer patients more likely to have bone health issues? In general, women are at the highest risk, regardless of whether they’ve had cancer. That’s because bone loss usually happens after menopause. Patients with breast or prostate cancer also are at risk for bone loss because they’re often treated with drugs that affect hormones. Survivors of childhood cancers may have the highest risk for bone health issues, Thosani says. “Children treated for cancer often have limited physical activity, and they’re exposed to certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy that interfere with bone development,” she adds. Which types of cancer treatment may increase the risk of bone health issues? Chemotherapy drugs like doxorubicin and cisplatin can reduce calcium levels in your body, which can lead to bone loss. Aromatase inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat breast cancer, can also cause bone loss. “For example, in postmenopausal women, tamoxifen treatment preserves bone marrow density. But when it’s used in premenopausal woman, it may actually increase the risk of bone loss,” says Thosani. If you’ve had radiation, you may be...