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Living well with cancer: Pre-habilitation and Preparing for Cancer Treatment

By September 27, 2023October 11th, 2023No Comments

A cancer diagnosis can be life-altering, with significant impacts on a person’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. Studies indicate that a significant proportion of Australian cancer patients, ranging from 65 to 90 per cent, experience not only functional or physical limitations after undergoing treatment but also emotional/mental disturbances. While the primary focus is understandably on the treatment and management of the disease, another critical aspect that’s gaining recognition is pre-habilitation, a crucial factor that plays a role in a cancer patient’s recovery. Pre-habilitation involves proactive steps to prepare both mentally and physically for cancer treatment. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of pre-habilitation, its benefits, and practical strategies to help individuals facing cancer treatment better navigate their journey.


Pre-habilitation is a relatively new concept in cancer care, but it’s gaining importance for several reasons:

  • Enhancing Resilience: Cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally challenging. Pre-habilitation aims to boost your overall health and resilience before starting treatment.
  • Improved Outcomes: Research suggests that patients who are in better physical and mental condition before treatment tend to have better outcomes, including reduced complications and shorter hospital stays.
  • Mitigating Side Effects: By addressing physical and emotional health prior to treatment, pre-habilitation can help reduce the severity of treatment-related side effects.
  • Quality of Life: Pre-habilitation not only focuses on survival but also on improving the quality of life during and after cancer treatment.


Practical Strategies for Preparing for Cancer Treatment

  • Consultation with Healthcare Team: Engage in open and honest discussions with your healthcare team about your treatment plan. Ask questions, voice concerns, and seek clarification about what to expect during and after treatment.
  • Nutrition: A well-balanced diet is essential to support your body through treatment. Consider consulting with a registered dietitian to develop a personalized nutrition plan that meets your specific needs.
  • Exercise: Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can help improve your strength, endurance, and overall well-being. Discuss with your healthcare provider to determine a safe and suitable exercise plan.
  • Stress Management: Explore stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or counselling. Reducing stress can improve your mental resilience during treatment.
  • Sleep: Prioritize healthy sleep habits to ensure you are well-rested and better equipped to handle the demands of treatment.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: If you smoke or consume alcohol, consider quitting or reducing these habits. Both can have a negative impact on treatment outcomes and overall health.
  • Support System: Build a support network of friends and family who can provide emotional and practical support throughout your treatment journey.
  • Advance Care Planning: Consider discussing and documenting your treatment preferences and end-of-life care wishes with your healthcare team and loved ones.
  • Educate Yourself: Learn about your type of cancer, treatment options, and potential side effects. Being informed can help you make decisions and cope with treatment-related challenges more effectively.
  • Mental Health: Address any existing mental health concerns and seek professional help if needed. Emotional well-being is a vital aspect of pre-habilitation.
  • Financial Planning: Cancer treatment can be expensive. Consider reviewing your insurance coverage and exploring financial assistance options to alleviate potential financial burdens.
  • Positive Mindset: Cultivate a positive mindset. Surround yourself with optimism and engage in activities that bring joy and purpose to your life.


Pre-habilitation is a proactive approach to preparing for cancer treatment that focuses on improving physical and mental well-being. By taking steps to enhance your overall health, you can better withstand the challenges that come with cancer treatment. Remember that pre-habilitation is a personalized journey, and the strategies you adopt should align with your unique needs and circumstances. Engage with your healthcare team and support network to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for the road ahead. Ultimately, pre-habilitation empowers individuals facing cancer treatment to take an active role in their care and strive for the best possible outcomes, both during and after treatment.


Please contact our Nurses on 07 5445 5794 or nurses@bloomhill.com.au if you have any questions.

The information in this document is based on resources from the Cancer Council Queensland. All information provided by Bloomhill is based on research and best practice guidelines. Our model of care utilizes the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) domains of wellness along with available clinical evidence.  Always consult your care team regarding matters that affect your health. This is a guide intended for information only.