In this part of our #bloodcancerawarenessmonth blog, we’re talking about dealing with blood cancer and life after blood cancer. Currently, the survival rate is, for many adults with blood cancers, still less than 50%. However, charities like Cure Leukaemia and Leukaemia Care are trying to push this to over 50%. With advancements in treatment available to those with blood cancer in recent years, more and more people are surviving.
It’s tough for anyone who is diagnosed with blood cancer, and everyone copes with it in their own way. However, there are a number of things you can do to feel more in control over your feelings and emotions.
Coping with blood cancer
When confronted with such a difficult situation, it can be easy to dwell on the negatives. However, doing this will almost certainly lead to you feeling even more distressed, even inducing anxiety and depression. Of course, it’s not as simple as just thinking more positively, and this certainly isn’t expected of anyone dealing with blood cancer. However, when you dwell on the negatives you often convince yourself of a distorted view of the actual situation. Try this:
• Write down your thoughts
• Write down some arguments that support that your thought is true
• Write down some arguments that go against your thought
• Re-evaluate that thought.
This is roughly based on a mindfulness technique called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT can have a profound effect on those who dwell on negative thoughts too often. It might even be worth looking into getting regular CBT sessions with a qualified professional.
Physical activity is also great for controlling your feelings. Of course, you may not feel like undertaking too much physical activity, or any at all when dealing with blood cancer, especially when undergoing treatment. However, even just going for a walk once a day can have a profound effect. That said, be careful as there are a number of precautions you need to take with exercise during treatment. Make sure you speak to your doctor about this.
Many people find that relaxation techniques can help them control their emotions. This could include:
• Hypnotherapy (the use of hypnosis to treat conditions or change habits)
• Mindfulness techniques.
Many people in general undertake one or a combination of these techniques to help with their overall mental wellbeing. Spending just a few minutes a day on one of these techniques can be hugely beneficial.
Talking to people
When confronted with negative feelings, the worst thing you can do is bottle them up and not speak to anyone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or psychologist, opening up about your feelings will help you understand your feelings more.
It can also help to speak to people in a support group or something similar. Speaking to others who are in a similar situation can help you understand how they deal with their situation which in turn could help you.
Life after blood cancer
What to expect
Completing treatment can be relieving, however many still have fears that the blood cancer will return. This is called recurrence. The chances of this happening depend on the type of blood cancer.
Following the treatment, in most cases, you should expect continual assessments from your doctor for months or even years after. This could involve blood tests or bone marrow exams. These follow-up assessments are needed to check for recurrence or any possible side effects of treatment.
Returning to ‘normal’ life
After treatment, returning back to a ‘normal’ life can take some adjusting. You may need to consider things like finances and returning back to work. Make sure you take advantage of as much help as you can. Whether this is from your employer or your friends and family.
While adjusting back to normal life may seem easy, sometimes it can be challenging. Usually, however, people who’ve survived cancer report that they now experience a heightened appreciation of life and relationships, as well as increased self-confidence and a new level of personal development.
Thank you for reading our #bloodcancerawarenessmonth blog! If you’d like to support blood cancer awareness month, check out the hashtags #bloodcancerawarenessmonth and #SpotLeukaemia on social media and even post yourself!