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The Life-Changing Impact of Blood Cancer

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 caregivers. Over 2,500 people impacted by blood cancer completed the survey. Although there are many different types of blood cancer, we found that patients and caregivers often experience many similarities throughout their journey.

Navigating a complicated diagnosis

The fast-moving nature of a blood cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Although a diagnosis is often reached quickly, over one-third of people who took our survey chose to have a second opinion with another health care professional. Second opinions can help you find or confirm a treatment plan that best meets your needs. With so many different types of blood cancer, 1 in 5 respondents used the internet to help make sense of their test results.

diagnosis confusion

A diverse treatment landscape

There are many ways to treat different types of blood cancer including chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, immunotherapy, and watchful waiting. While each person’s treatment will be individualized to his or her particular situation, over two-thirds of respondents have undergone chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan.

ways to treat blood cancer

Symptoms rear their ugly head

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 that they have to manage.

frustrating side effects

Dealing with multiple health issues

As if a diagnosis of blood cancer wasn’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.

person rock climbing

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 a dark time. Since blood cancer can strike people of all ages, caregivers can be parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, among others. Having a strong support system can make coping with a diagnosis of blood cancer a little bit easier.

patient and caregiver on a bench

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.

blood cancer in one word

The Blood Cancer In America 2018 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. Of diagnosed respondents:

  • 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


  • Carole McCue
    1 year ago

    An excellent overview of Blood Cancer and its effects.
    Thank you as this site is so informative.

  • joy
    1 year ago

    The after effects of chemotherapy, and mantle cell lymphoma is unreal. 1 st chemo the neuropathy started in my feet. Makes it difficult in a pool or ocean since I go numb to my knees. My writing hand came second, so that’s difficult now. My joints started hurting to a point even with Tylenol I don’t sleep from the pain. As I remember from 26 years ago with breast cancer, I sleep better during the day than at night.
    Waking in the morning is a good thing. Use to do all my Christmas decor and tree in one day. This year took me 3 days. They say my cancer is in remission, but I wonder some days. The

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    @joy It’s tough when we’re given the news of healing, yet we still feel crappy. I hope in time the chaos and after effect of the meds wear off in time to enjoy the holidays.

  • DoreenHribar moderator
    1 year ago

    It certainly sounds like the effects of chemo have taken a toll on you. I am sorry to hear you are in such pain. I hope you will be able to find some relief soon and are able to enjoy your tree and decor and all that the holidays bring.

  • bluchs
    1 year ago

    There is no question, that this CLL Cancer I have, has changed my life.
    I went from enjoying the fruits of a long and hard career, and living comfortably in a large country home.
    To being thankful to wake up each and every day, since there are many days, I don’t think I will live through the night?
    When I was first diagnosed, I believed I was going to die right away, so I gave away or donated everything I owned.
    Cancer cost me every penny I had saved for retirement, now I live from SS check to SS check.
    Go Figure?
    I used to have goals of enjoying my retirement.
    Now my goals are only to live long enough to make a positive difference, in the lives of others, also suffering from this terrible Blood Cancer.
    This platform, is actually a positive place for me to , Hopefully do that??
    I Pray that to be so!

  • DoreenHribar moderator
    1 year ago

    So sorry to hear of all that you have gone through, and how much cancer has changed your life. We are glad that you found this site to share your story and help make a difference for others.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    We’ve come a long way in the possibilities of rewriting blood cancers, and how we deal with it. Nice!

  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    1 year ago

    These are such useful facts and really put the diagnosis and treatments into perspective! I love the progression that our country is seeing in regards to treatment.

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