Blood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month! During this time there are many fundraisers, walks, and information given out about the cancers. The problem is unless you have one of these diseases or someone in your family does, you probably aren’t paying attention. This limits the chance of knowing the signs of the diseases and going to the doctor and getting help early.

The problem with blood cancer symptoms

Leukemia and lymphoma are two types of blood cancer. With the onset of leukemia, you may feel fatigued, a decreased appetite, experience bruising, and frequent infections. Lymphoma has similar symptoms but you may also have night sweats and swollen lymph nodes.

Many of the symptoms for these cancers are things many people experience if they aren’t feeling well. Fatigue can also be caused by stress and our busy lifestyles. As far as a decrease in appetite goes, many of us may even welcome that due to weight issues we may have. Bruising is another sign that we may not pay attention to. I know for myself, whenever I get a bruise I just wonder what I did to get it and then move on to my next thought. Even with frequent infections, we may not pay attention to it right away. Night sweats are unusual, but only if the person is young. So as you can see, the first problem is to realize there may be a problem.

When you realize there may be a problem

Once you realize something may be "off", you make an appointment with your doctor. No one typically wants to go to the doctor, especially if you think you may get bad news. But just trying to get the appointment may mean waiting a week or more to get in, taking a day off from work, and then sitting in the doctor’s office for however long it takes to be seen. After all this, the doctor may hear your symptoms and brush it off.

That is what happened in my daughter’s case. My daughter, who was just 24 at the time, had swollen lymph nodes and night sweats. These are two glaring signs of lymphoma, and the doctor still missed it. It’s frustrating and difficult. You have to know and listen to your body so you can get help.

Getting the information

I believe information gives you power. But, how do you find the information you need, and how do you know you need it? It would be nice to have commercials that offer information about the cancers highlighted each month. Signs and symptoms as well as the next steps to take could be shared. That would help people to know about cancer screenings and early warning signs. My daughter, Crystal, was brushed off by her first doctor and then waited before she saw the second one. If she knew what the signs meant, she may have had testing earlier.

It is also Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I bring this up because our thyroids can be affected by the treatments we take for other cancers. There is a simple screening that you can have your doctor do while you’re there for a check-up. You can even do it yourself at home. Thyroid cancer is on the rise, so share the screening with your family as well.

Wishing you health & happiness.

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