Managing your symptoms and lifestyle

Managing everyday activities

You may find that at times, particularly during periods of treatment, you feel more tired than usual. Some people also experience periods of breathlessness when carrying out more strenuous activities. You may need to adapt your everyday activities to help overcome this. When necessary your doctor will also provide medication or treatment to reduce this problem.

This section will answer the following questions

What kind of changes will I need to make?
When coping with everyday activities, try to remember the following three "Ps": Prioritise - In order to have more energy to do the things you want to do, try to prioritise by deciding what is most important to you. Plan ahead - Forward planning can help you achieve what you want to do without over-tiring yourself. Pace yourself during the day by balancing periods of activity with periods of rest.

It is not uncommon for some people to find that possibly as a result of being tired, or a feeling of being less sexually attractive, sexual interest may temporarily decrease. Furthermore, your partner may sometimes be concerned, very often wrongly, about the possibility of hurting you. It may help to discuss any concerns with your partner or hospital staff. It may be helpful to temporarily replace sexual activity with non-sexual contact such as holding hands, hugging or kissing for a while, if sexual interest is low.
What sort of activities may I find more tiring
Usually you will find that more physically demanding activities, for example, climbing stairs, gardening, shopping or perhaps bathing/showering, are more tiring. There is equipment that can help you remain independent and reduce the energy required to carry out activities, for example: Use a stool to sit on when gardening. Check your bed and chairs are high enough for you to get on/off easily. A high toilet seat can be ordered if your toilet is too low. A grab-rail beside the bath, shower or toilet will help you steady yourself. Ask your occupational therapist for advice on the above.
Will I still be able to get out and about?
If you are travelling long distances by rail or air, advise the operator when booking your seats as additional help is often available to you. People who have been affected by cancer often find that getting travel insurance can be difficult. It can sometimes take longer to arrange travel insurance so it may be best to start looking as soon as possible. For more information on getting travel insurance, please see our Travel Insurance Factsheet.

If you require further information, please call our Lung Cancer Helpline on 0333 323 7200. Ask your GP for advice if you are travelling with drugs, particularly morphine.
Financial help
A variety of financial help is available for people affected by lung cancer. The benefits system can be confusing, especially if you have never been in a position before of needing to claim. There is a different form for each type of benefit, all of which you can get by phoning the Benefit Enquiry Line on: 0800 88 22 00 or from the Directgov website. For more information on the benefits that may be available, see our Financial help factsheet in our Downloads section.

For more information on the points discussed above, take a look at the Living with Lung Cancer booklet:
Coping with breathlessness
If you have lung cancer there are also a variety of reasons for shortness of breath and there are many ways to deal with this problem. The emphasis of the following information is to promote maximum self-control and awareness of non medical treatment options. Although medical treatments may be required, often breathlessness can also be greatly helped by non medical interventions. It is important that you do not assume that nothing can be done and that breathlessness is part and parcel of having lung cancer.


Learning to control your breathing
Breathlessness causes you to increase the speed at which you breathe. This causes anxiety, tension and overuse of the muscles in their shoulders and upper chest. All of this makes the effort of breathing harder, by involving more muscles and using more energy. Your breathing can also become shallower. This means that the lungs do not receive as much air, which in turn can add to the feeling of breathlessness. There are several techniques, which can be used to overcome these feelings and make breathing easier. The ‘Managing Lung Cancer Symptoms’ booklet below gives more detail on these techniques. For the Managing Lung Cancer Symptoms Booklet Click Here -
Learning to relax
Another common reaction to anxiety is increased muscle tension, such as hunched shoulders, clenched fists or feeling a knot in your stomach. Learning to relax by letting go of this muscle tension can also be a useful method of controlling anxiety and breathlessness. The first stage in learning relaxation is becoming more aware of which particular parts of your body tense up when you feel uptight. The most commonly affected areas are the neck, shoulders and back. Here are exercises that are intended to help you learn how to relax. ]


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