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Part 5: Maintaining Health


  • Follow-Up Surveillance

  • Positive Focus

  • Healthy Nutrition for Life

  • Exercise Habits

  • Restorative Sleep

  • Peace of Mind

Follow-Up Surveillance


Following treatment for colon cancer, surveillance consists of the following:


  • Clinical encounter with a primary care physician, oncologist, or surgeon every 3-6 months for the first 3 years and every 6 months until year 5.

  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level every 6 months for the first 3 years

  • Annual CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis

  • Full colonoscopy one year after surgery and then every 3-5 years



Positive Focus


Cancer survivorship involves many emotions such as sadness, guilt, depression, and fear. These feeling are natural and in no way pre-dispose to worse outcomes. Mental and emotional health is important, and counseling is recommended to work through these feelings in a positive and constructive environment. There are no studies that indicate that therapy prolongs survival but it may reduce anxiety and address untreated depression.


Healthy Nutrition for Life


There is overwhelming evidence that nutrition is the best defense against the development of cancer, and healthy life style changes should include a whole-food predominately plant based diet. Home processing is preferred to commercially processed foods, and organic whole foods are preferable.  


Exercise Habits


People who maintain healthy exercise habits tend to have lower rates of cancer, and do better during and after cancer therapy. Exercise is recommended daily, with higher intensity weight or interval training 2-3 times a week. 


Restorative Sleep


Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, and night-shift workers actually have a higher incidence of developing cancer. Sleep quality and maintaining natural day-night cycles is important to health. Tips for healthy sleep include:


  • Establish a regular sleep time

  • Cut back on caffeine and nicotine up to 12 hours prior to sleep time

  • Regular exercise, but not 3-4 hours before sleep time

  • Avoid eating late

  • Keep the sleeping area cool

  • Manage anxiety and hyper-arousal with mind-body techniques like breathing exercise, mindfulness meditation, muscular relaxation, yoga, and heart-rate variability techniques

  • Consider supplements like melatonin, or herbals such as valerian or hops


Peace of Mind


The absence of stress and anxiety provides the state of mind in which happiness can arise. Happiness cannot be achieved through external sources, but is found within. Stress reduction techniques are important in today’s busy life. Breathing exercises, yoga, and guided imagery are proven techniques that decrease the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Walks in nature and time laughing with good friends are also good activities. Think about how much time is spent with internal peace, and design ways to decrease stress as much as possible to achieve peace of mind.


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