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Living With Blood Cancer as a Chronic, Ever- Present Condition

A blood cancer diagnosis has a ripple effect throughout our lives. It is a start of a long journey that can be draining on the emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Living with cancer is not as much about “getting back to normal” as it is learning what’s now normal for me.

Continued scan-xiety

Living as a follicular lymphoma survivor in remission has had both positive and negative effects on my life. The negative effects for me include fear and continued uncertainty. When will the cancer return? I experience scan-xiety before my annual diagnostic CT scan.

Worries about a weakened immune system

I worry about my weakened immune system because of chemotherapy. Every new symptom can mean the return of my lymphoma. Will I live long enough to see my granddaughter grow up?

At the end of cancer treatment, we all hope that the cancer is gone forever, but recurrence is a reality for many people. We cannot let the fear of recurrence stop us from living well.

Trying not to let the worry get to me

I try to let the worry motivate me to make healthy changes to keep cancer away and improve my mood, sleep, and energy level.

My sources for resilience

Resilience is a measurement of one’s capacity to recover fully from a negative event. Optimism is a positive factor in living with cancer. I began to look as every day as a gift. Cancer is part of my life, now I try to have hope living with uncertainty. The positive effects include the following:

  • I realized that friends and family can provide support and distraction from negative thoughts. I never miss an opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter.
  • I identified things I would like to accomplish as in my “bucket list” and developed a plan to accomplish. These included travel with my children and spending time at the shore.
  • I am trying to be healthy. I joined an exercise club, yoga sessions and achieved a more positive outlook through meditation.
  • Religion as a source of strength. I discovered part of something greater than myself and helps me find meaning in life.
  • Eager to help other cancer patients. My role as a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has provided me with comfort and satisfaction.
  • Feeling grateful. I find that journaling and listing things that I am grateful for has helped me feel blessed and more optimistic.
  • Be informed. Ask questions of your medical team. Read about the latest research and new treatments. Knowledge is power and gives me a greater sense of control.
  • Take time for myself before my annual CT scan. I learned that a scheduled massage, lunch with a friend or listening to my favorite music can help lessen my scan-xiety.
  • Make time for the things that I enjoy. I try to make a list of things to look forward to.
  • Setting a daily schedule gives me more power.
  • I allow myself to have a bad day or feel sad. Then I look at the above list to lift my spirits and shift my focus to a pleasurable activity such as a walk on the beach.

I believe that because of living with the chronic cancer disease has caused me to be the “best version of myself.”

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