6 ways caregivers can improve their health at MD Anderson
Kellie Bramlet Blackburn
As a cancer caregiver, you’ve probably been told it’s important to take care of your own physical and mental health, too. But sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re here at MD Anderson focusing on your loved one.
That’s why we’ve made a list of ways that you can look after your own health while you’re here at MD Anderson, whether you’re waiting on appointments or visiting a loved one.
Walk the skybridge
It can be hard to find time to exercise when you’re caring for others. But exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and lowering your cancer risk. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week to lower your cancer risk.
Fortunately, you can get plenty of exercise by walking outside MD Anderson, weather permitting, or across our nearly quarter-mile-long skybridge. Walking can also improve your mental outlook, help alleviate depression and improve your self-esteem.
Relax in our gardens
Interacting with nature can help raise people’s spirits and put them at ease. That’s why MD Anderson has six different parks, gardens or green spaces that are specially designed to promote healing. Try taking time to admire the beauty of the Tom Jean Moore Rose Garden or listen to the peaceful sounds of the Dorothy Hudson Garden and LeRoy Melcher Jr. Memorial Fountain. Outside of Mays Clinic, you can also walk through The Prairie and see grasses native to Texas or stop to smell the herbs growing in our Healthy Living Garden.
Take a class
We know that caring for others can cause stress and anxiety that can take its toll on your health. That’s why our Integrative Medicine Center offers yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and even healthy cooking classes for our patients and their caregivers. The center offers therapies that can reduce stress, an important part of your lowering your cancer risk. To learn more about the Integrative Medicine Center, talk to your loved one’s MD Anderson doctor, call 1-877-684-5568, or just stop by. It’s located east of The Aquarium entrance in the Main Building, Room R1.2000.
Visit The Learning Center
Sometimes sorting through health information – whether it’s for you or your loved one – can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know who or what websites you can trust. Our Learning Center staff can help. Not only can they help you find the best books and other resources on cancer topics, ranging from different diseases to nutrition and stress management; they’ve also created a list of recommended resources.
Stop into one of our three The Learning Center locations:
Theodore N. Law Learning Center
Main Building, Floor 4, near Elevator A, R4.1100
Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Levit Family Learning Center
Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near The Tree Sculpture, ACB2.1120
Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Holden Foundation Learning Center
Jesse H. Jones Rotary House, Floor 1, RH1.103
Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun., 1:30-8:30 p.m.
Get your cancer screening exams
When you’re caring for a loved one, you may be more likely to put off routine checkups and doctor’s appointments for yourself. The good news is you don’t have to leave MD Anderson to get the cancer screening exams you need. These are medical tests done when you’re healthy, with no signs of illness. They help find cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.
You may need certain screenings based on your age or other health factors. You can take advantage of these screening services at our Cancer Prevention Center:
You can request an appointment at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center by calling 1-877-632-6789. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to make an appointment.
Don’t put off your own health
It may seem hard to find time to take care of your own health, but remember: caring for yourself can help you better care for your loved ones. So next time you’re at MD Anderson, be sure to work some self-care into your visit. After all, we consider caregivers to be cancer survivors, too.