Leukemia is defined as the cancer of blood or bone marrow which is responsible for the production of blood cells. A person who has leukemia generally suffers from an abnormal production of blood cells specially leukocytes, also known as white blood cells, that are responsible to protect the body against any sort of allergy or infection. As we are aware, diseases do have an effect on us holistically; that is, because of diseases or infections, our physical, mental, emotional, social, and other aspects of life can be altered in one way or another.
Cancer, just like other debilitating diseases, impacts our life. In such cases, understanding the disease makes a person undergo the coping process with fewer troubles and difficulties. You have to recognize that with malignancies, such as leukemia, the client will not be the only one who feels challenged; along with him, his family members and friends can also experience emotional problems. Because of that, this article does not only address the need of the patient, but the needs of the support system, as well.
Leukemia’s survival rate varies depending on the type. On the website of WebMD, it was said that more than 50% of patients survive chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (81/100 and 90/100 respectively). On the other hand, ALL (Acute lymphoblastic leukemia) shows a low survival rate of 39/100. The type of leukemia then can give an idea about how the patient or family would react. Mixed emotions of fear, guilt, anger, and depression can manifest. The importance of having a good support system plays a great role for the patient. Studies have proven how it can make or break the way the patient with leukemia complies with the treatment regimen and handles the stress.
Patience, Patience, Patience.
The patient with leukemia can experience the following signs and symptoms:
- complaints of pain in bones
- presence of multiple bruises all over the body
- consistent verbalization of being physically tired
- restless and lethargic, along with having lab results positive with infections
As a relative or friend, you should be able to prepare yourself emotionally as well, since the sight of them can be saddening. Extra doses of fortitude and understanding is a must. Moreover, do not forget that faith can also help burdens lighten, regardless of the religion; therefore, practices of religious traditions are encouraged. An individual suffering from leukemia or any other disease or infection should be treated and taken care of with extra love and affection. It is not alone the support of the doctor that helps in curing the disease, but also the support of his near and dear ones; when the patient is at home, his family members tend to be his doctor, and they are the ones who should keep a regular check on the patient’s diet and health pattern. Family and friends should be sure he’s following his medications and indulging in healthy food, as well as partaking in a healthy sleeping pattern.
There are different treatment options for a leukemic person, including: surgery, radiation therapy, and the more common chemotherapy. Whatever the choice may be, it can be financially wearing. Paying your doctor, hospital bills, transportation fee, and home care can put your savings down the drain. These can double and even triple if you choose regimens that need to be done on a regular basis. The use of cytotoxic drugs, for example, should be done in intervals, several times per year to be precise. There are also many things to consider when someone is undergoing curative measurements. Careful observation of the "dos and don’ts" before, during, and after should be done. Not doing this can complicate the situation. It is advisable for you to contact the client’s physician if instructions get confusing; this is necessary to avoid complications. The patient is always advised to share the slightest changes that he feels are incurring in his body. To procure the best results, he must always be clear and honest while sharing his side of the story with the doctor.
Diet and Physical Activities
Diet restrictions will be prescribed, especially to clients getting chemotherapy. Expect nutritionists to advise small, frequent meals with low-fat, high-fiber, protein-rich foods. The meal should be basically well-balanced and properly timed to help remission of signs and symptoms. This makes it complicated for mothers who are also taking care of other children without this particular disease condition. You will notice physical limitations on the part of the patient at the same time. This is particularly because of their increased demand for oxygen supply as their red blood cells (the one responsible for carrying and delivering oxygen) can be affected. Henceforth, do not try to force them to work too much, and do not expect them to be as active as they were before or as compared to other people their age. While it’s completely okay for them to sleep a few extra hours because of the side effects of heavy doses, it is also okay if they feel restless after a short period of time. Since the body is at the state of complete rest, this situation adds further disappointment for children suffering from leukemia above all, because they will not be able to run around and have fun the way their playmates do.
Advice for Caregivers
The challenge will not stop, as caregivers have needs, too. If you are taking care of someone with leukemia, it is important for you to rest, too. You have to be aware that there is a condition known as caregiver burnout, and this is what we are trying to steer clear of as much as possible. Taking vacations, doing the things you love, communicating with others, and being physically healthy can help make your responsibilities feel lighter. Once again, you have to bear in mind that living with leukemia comes with ups and downs, and working together is the key toward health. A person suffering from leukemia must never lose hope, and he must follow the treatments and medications prescribed to him by the doctor. The cure to this disease lies more in the hands of the patient than the doctor.
Living with leukemia can be very challenging, but there are steps that can be taken to avoid complications.