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Sunshine, a Vital Key to Wellness

Vitamin D is vital for anyone, but for people with cancer it can be especially vital even during social distancing rules.
PUBLISHED May 21, 2020
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
When the Coronavirus was first discovered in the United States, the American public was warned to stay home and practice social distancing. These orders were issued by local and federal governments due to the seriousness of the disease and to help prevent its spread.

As thousands followed that advice, sheltering in place became the norm. Many took it to mean we were to stay indoors in order to be safe.  

For me, staying indoors for weeks at a time, was difficult. Day after day, the isolation took its toll. I enjoyed the outdoors and relished my daily walks. Without them, I began to struggle with feelings of lethargy. Perhaps the lack of energy was due to inactivity but more than likely, it was the result of a Vitamin D deficiency.  

I’d first experienced a Vitamin D deficiency shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time, I’d come to the oncology department worrying my cancer may have recurred. I was so tired I could barely function and knew the feeling was abnormal. After talking with the doctor, she diagnosed a severe Vitamin D deficiency. I was given a prescription for 50,000 I.U. of vitamin D and advised to take the supplement every week for a month. At the end of the month, she said I’d feel vastly different, and she was right.

After the first week of taking the supplement, I began to notice a small change in my energy level. The fatigue began to slowly lift, and I found myself feeling more energetic. The following weeks I began to feel stronger and stronger. Soon, I felt close to normal.

The doctor had said Vitamin D was important for my bones and teeth but also affected the immune system. I was shocked when she shared low levels of Vitamin D had been linked to various forms of cancer.

As the quarantine went on, I realized it was time to act.

Since I no longer had a prescription for high dose Vitamin D, I made an online purchase of the supplement and began taking it. There were no high dose Vitamin D supplements available without a prescription, but I tried to get as close as possible to the 50,000 I.U. I’d been prescribed in the past. Along with the supplement, I’d need to find other ways to get more Vitamin D. My diet did not include fish or much red meat, so I knew just what to do. Even if I was quarantined, I could still sit outside in my yard and soak up the sun and I wouldn’t have to worry about social distancing.

Radiation treatments had left my skin sensitive to the sun, especially along the neck and chest wall, so I made sure to apply a UAV, UAB sunscreen before going outside. I planned my sunbathing time so I’d avoid the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. I’d read between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays were the strongest and I didn’t want to chance getting burned.

Thankfully, we’re entering the time of year when we have many sunny days. Now that the social distancing rules are being relaxed and more and more people are returning to their normal routines, walking trails, parks and other outdoor spaces are beginning to reopen. Those are great places for getting exposure to the sun.

Daily, I look forward to my time in the sun. It’s proven a vital key to wellness. The sunshine has also helped me sleep better and helped to reduce my stress. It such a joy to be able to relax outside with a good book while soaking up the sun in the safety of my own yard.

A daily dose of sunshine does a body good. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, it might not just be because of everything that’s going on around you, it could possibly be a Vitamin D deficiency. A blood test is available to determine your level of deficiency, but some insurance companies will not cover it. Check with your doctor in case of extreme fatigue. It could indicate a more serious problem. But for many people, a little extra Vitamin D could prove beneficial to the daily healthcare regimen. 
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