Person with a battery for a body, the energy bars are gradually emptying

Energy Do's and Don'ts for Blood Cancer Patients (Part 1)

When you have leukemia (in my case, chronic myeloid leukemia or CML) and other blood cancers, fatigue is a daily issue. So it got me thinking about energy. To sum up, I don’t have any. The need for naps and breaks is real and so is the need to keep on working so I can pay rent. To me, that means I have to find ways to conserve energy. Where should I focus my physical and mental time and what are the things that I can avoid--energy “drains?”

We’ll get the don’ts out of the way first so we can (eventually) end on a positive note!

Removing things that take a mental toll

Let’s call this one the dreaded 'YouTube hole'. If you let it, social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik-Tok, etc.) can suck up a lot of your time with little to show for it. Watching a cute video someone sends you is one thing. Clicking on everything that singer/actor/social influencer has ever posted is another. All I’m saying is that if you find yourself playing games, tweeting, or seeking out GIFs and memes all day, hour after hour, day after day, it’s probably time to set time limits.

In a similar way, these days, no news is good news. It’s great and necessary to be informed about current world events. If you are like me, though, you might succumb to watching too much, reading too much, and spending hours hearing the same thing over and over again. It’s not necessary and it takes a toll—physically and mentally. Recently, I’ve made a change. I’ve found that limiting news watching has left me feeling less drained and frankly, less moody, and depressed.

Fatigue can be brought on by people, too

People, places, and things - the old 'noun' energy drainers. We all know people who suck the life out of us whether intentional or not. We spend a lot of time taking their problems on and being good listeners, as we should. But there comes a point when it starts to get tiring. It starts to become a burden. And, if you are doing all the giving and none of the taking, that’s not healthy.

Having blood cancer can open your eyes to the toxic relationships and false friendships you may have. It helps you identify the keepers and weed out the users. How many of us have lost people in their lives since being diagnosed? Raise your hands. If someone can’t be around you when you are struggling with side effects, emotions, and physical pain... yeah, bye.

Also, don’t agree to participate in activities or go places you really don’t want to because you are afraid to say 'no' to said people in your life. The worry and anxiety you will feel beforehand will zap your strength and remember, as cancer patients, we’re trying to conserve!

As for things, sometimes, you’ve just got to purge. Existing in cluttered, disorganized surroundings can translate into feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and again, speaking for myself, kind of 'out of it.' You’ve heard it all before. Maybe you can donate things you no longer use, wear, or need. Then you don’t have to worry about tripping over them. And you don’t have to waste time and energy staring at it all.

Channel your energy in better directions

Finally, don’t waste your energy on people pushing miracle cures, blaming you for your diagnosis ("you should have eaten better", "you should have prayed more", etc.) or otherwise upsetting you based on their misunderstanding of leukemia.

CML is a chromosome mishap, it’s forever and it sucks. And it is an energy drainer, for sure. But there are ways to channel energy in better directions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll share what helps me.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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