The Life-Changing Impact of Blood Cancer
Receiving a diagnosis of blood cancer can change life as you know it, from the physical effects of treatment to the deeply emotional aspects of coping with a cancer diagnosis. In order to better understand life with blood cancer, we conducted a large survey of people with blood cancer and their caregivers. Over 2,500 people affected by blood cancer completed the survey. Although there are many different types of blood cancer, we found many similarities in patients' and caregivers' experiences.
Navigating a complicated diagnosis
The fast-moving nature of the blood cancer diagnosis process can be overwhelming. Although a diagnosis is often reached quickly, over one-third of people who took our survey chose to get a second opinion from another healthcare professional. Second opinions can help you find or confirm the treatment plan that best meets your needs. One in 5 respondents also used the internet to help make sense of their test results.
A diverse treatment landscape
There are many ways to treat different types of blood cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplantation, immunotherapy, and watchful waiting. While each person's treatment will be individualized to their particular situation, over two-thirds of respondents have undergone chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan.
Symptoms rear their ugly heads
It can be hard to escape the physical effects of blood cancer. The vast majority of respondents have experienced symptoms during the last month. While some symptoms may be tolerable, others can deeply impact quality of life. Respondents cited fatigue, chemo brain, pain, and neuropathy as the most frustrating symptoms they have to manage.
Dealing with multiple health issues
As if a diagnosis of blood cancer weren't enough, many of those who took our survey also have other health issues. Some of the most common conditions included hypertension (high blood pressure), neuropathy, osteoarthritis, and even other cancers. Nearly 1 in 4 respondents have been diagnosed with another cancer in addition to their blood cancer.
The value of caregivers
Caregivers can take on many roles, from attending appointments and providing transportation to being a shoulder to cry on and lightening the mood during dark times. Since blood cancer can strike people of all ages, caregivers can be parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends, among others. Having a strong support system can make coping with a diagnosis of blood cancer a little bit easier.
Blood cancer in one word
It is hard to choose just one word to describe life with blood cancer. Even for those feeling strong during treatment or currently in remission, blood cancer is still a heavy burden to carry.
Of respondents diagnosed with or caring for someone with blood cancer:
- 33% have been diagnosed with or cared for someone with multiple myeloma
- 32% have been diagnosed with or cared for someone with lymphoma
- 29% have been diagnosed with or cared for someone with leukemia
- 6% have been diagnosed with or cared for someone with another type of blood cancer
The 1st (2018) Blood Cancer In America survey was conducted online from November of 2017 to March of 2018. Of the 2,596 respondents, 1,976 were patients and 620 were caregivers of people with blood cancer.
What type of blood cancer are you or your loved one diagnosed with?