My Strategies for Living with Blood Cancer

Last updated: October 2022

After my initial denial and anger when diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010, I have developed strategies to live as a cancer survivor.

A year of “watch and wait,” was following by a course of chemotherapy and then two years of a monoclonal antibody . This protocol was based on the latest research, and I am happy to report that it has been successful.

My serial CAT scans have progressed to annual and, to date, there is no active cancer.

Advice in retrospect

Looking back, I thought I would share what helps me live day to day with the knowledge that I have blood cancer.

1.Spirituality

The most effective and comforting strategy has been my Spirituality. My religious beliefs became more apparent and have given me strength in dealing with my frightening diagnosis. Each of us is unique , and will find strength in various ways. For me knowing that my religious community is there should I need it has been a great asset. Our Pastor is supportive especially when he knows I will be having a diagnostic test.

2. Time with family

Planning family activities has been an invaluable strategy . Making memories and never missing an opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter has brought me joy. When first diagnosed with blood cancer, I thought I would miss the important life dates of my granddaughter. I purchased cards for every future occasion. I am happy to report that I am using those loving cards and enjoying these special occasions as Confirmation, sweet sixteen and now High School Graduation.

3. Enjoying friends

I am amazed at how terrific my friends have become during this difficult time. At the diagnosis, they listened, hugged and cried with me. Time spent with these caring individuals helped me enjoy time together and move on with my life. For that I will be forever grateful. I strongly recommend avoiding isolation during this challenging time. Friends can be an invaluable asset.

4. Knowledge

Keep updated with latest Blood Cancer Research. Knowledge is power. It is helpful to be aware of the newest protocols for your cancer. I am very fortunate to have an oncologist who is receptive to my numerous questions. Reputable sites like The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and American Cancer Society provide current, reliable information.

5. Healthy lifestyle

Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet can provide energy and maintain your immune system. I spoke with my oncologist to be sure that vitamins and some herbal supplements would be safe. I would strongly recommend that you always speak to your physician before taking anything.

Walking and exercise can be beneficial for both physical and mental energy. We recently adopted a loving dog who provides exercise for his walks as well as bringing additional love to our home.

6. Medical care

Keep routine physician appointments. Although we are tired of cancer related physician appointments, it is important to continue with needed routine visits which may include mammograms, labs or colonoscopies. Be sure to speak with your physicians and discuss what routine testing may be indicated.

7. Trying something new

Seek new opportunities. Make time for things you might enjoy. Do you have a “bucket list” of things you might like to try? Now is the time. I find reading, volunteering and just walking on the beach to be most satisfying. What have I learned form living with cancer? Each day is a gift. Never miss an opportunity to spend time with those that you love. Try to be optimistic and have hope.

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