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Living With Blood Cancer and Additional Cancer

When you are diagnosed with blood cancer, most doctors will do their best to try to prepare you for the future. You will be referred to other doctors, support groups, and even counselors. They will tell you all the possible things that could happen, treatments to consider, possible side effects, etc.. Listen, you will be prepared for lots of things. But what you probably won't be prepared for is when one cancer... becomes two!

Diagnosed with two cancers

I was diagnosed with leukemia (eventually CLL) at the same time I was told that my ovarian cancer had returned. In my case, some of the symptoms were similar. Particularly our good friend, fatigue! Unfortunately, my fatigue was being misdiagnosed as anemia. I was starting to have night sweats and was told it was just my hormones because I was close to 40. It wasn't until I was in constant pain outside of the ovarian pain, starting to fall a lot, bruising badly, and having issues with my appetite that an ER doctor FINALLY listened! Extensive bloodwork, CT scans, and ultrasounds would reveal not one but two cancers! Imagine having not one, but two oncologists walking into the room...

When blood cancer brings a friend

Living with blood cancer is hard enough. It is its own struggle, for sure. When you add the challenges of additional cancers and/or auto-immune disorders, well, it's even harder.

  • Fatigue. First and foremost, fatigue alone is a battle. If you are dealing with fatigue from multiple cancers, it's often like walking in quicksand. No matter how hard you try to be your best and go with that burst of energy, you are fighting a losing battle! It's going to take you down. And it's not going to lay you down gently. It's taking you down like a heavyweight prize fighter. Hard, fast, and for the TKO! LOL!!
  • Treatment This will not be business as usual for you. Your treatment won't be like everyone else's. Your medical care team will have to come together to find a treatment plan that works specifically for you and your situation. What you currently take and, most importantly, need all has to be taken into consideration. The goal has to be two-fold. Getting you well without being counterproductive. This can be time-consuming, as it may be a matter of trial and error. Sometimes you don't know what works until you know what doesn't.
  • Medical care team. Anyone with blood cancer will probably have two additional doctors, if not more. When you are living with more than one cancer, you can expect your team to continue to expand. They all need to work together to effectively treat you.
  • Living with it. You need your blood to help you survive. However, our blood isn't healthy. That can indeed affect your cancer, your treatment, and your body. Especially depending on the type of additional cancer, where it is, and stage. You will figure out how to manage and maintain in the best way that works for you.

Just breathe

Don't get overwhelmed! Some months it seems I have appointments all month long! Sometimes I am in and out of the hospital because as soon one thing is handled, something else goes haywire. The thing about blood cancer is that its always there in the background. It can be a lot. It can make you feel like giving up or giving in. It's going to be ok! Close your eyes and just breathe....

As of today, I live with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and multiple sclerosis. I wasn't prepared for this! They didn't tell me that this could happen. Some days are downright right HARD! Some days I say, "I'm done!" The fatigue is too much, I'm too sick, the pain is unbearable, I'm overwhelmed with appointments, and I just can't... And then.. I put my headphones on and breathe!!

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