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a monster about to bite a man

No More Poison

I’ve often thought my leukemia could be traced back to a seven-year period when I endured a chronic level of intense stress. I, of course, had no knowledge of actual research in this area. It was just a feeling I had.

Though there is little evidence (yet) that stress is a direct cause of leukemia, a growing number of studies connect stress with a reduction in the immune system and possibly the progression of the disease.

Not all stress is bad of course. The stress you put your body through with proper exercise can actually, in my opinion, help. But what of long-term, continual, often psychological stress?

Stress and cancer research

A study by Barbara L. Andersen, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University, “linked stress with biological disease markers in patients with CLL.”1

And an intensive analysis of multiple studies done over a period of 30 years (published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information), suggested “the immune system, once thought to be autonomous, is now known to respond to signals from many other systems in the body, particularly the nervous system and the endocrine system.” In other words, the areas in our body that respond to stress.2

There are many things you can do to help reduce the negative effects of long-term stress. Meditation, exercise, getting enough sleep, and even eating well can help. But I believe there is a particularly dangerous type of stress you can only reduce by directly eliminating the source.

Eliminating toxic people from your life

Any sane person would not ingest regular doses of cyanide, yet many of us allow another type of poison in our daily lives: toxic people.

You can no longer afford to endure the headaches, worries, and just plain pain that difficult people bring your way. If someone comes to you talking about problems in their lives, of course, you can listen, console, and even give advice if they ask for it. But you don’t need to get directly involved with their issues.

If you are like me you tend to be too empathic to the difficulties others are facing. I’m trying to no longer do this. I can’t afford to become a mentor for overly needy people. I have enough of my own struggles. I can’t – I won’t – endanger my health by making their dramas part of my life.

Don’t fight, just let them go

And never let anyone bring anger into your home, especially if it is directed towards you. If you have a hurtful, selfish person aiming his/her hate at you despite your efforts to solve the issue, don’t fight. Just let them go. Love them, forgive them, but don’t allow them to serve up their poisonous meal to you.

I know that may sound cold. I don’t mean it to. But you have to protect your health as much as possible. You have leukemia after all.

Protect yourself. Avoid toxic people. If you can’t, at least tell them to leave their drama at home.

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

  1. Independent News on Hematology-Oncology. Stress Linked to More Advanced Disease in CLL Patients. Available at: http://know.lww.com/lymphoma-leukemia/articles/stresslinked.html.html
  2. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. ProMed Central, US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/. Published Feb 7, 2006.

Comments

  • rhamrin
    2 months ago

    What if the anger and toxicity aimed at you is coming from your only available caregiver? Only 49 dealing with multiple myeloma. Trying to work things out but it’s been a stressful ride. Afraid to face life on my own medically and financially and have no other support. Sometimes gotta just make the best of things.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 month ago

    @rhamrin I’m glad you were able to talk this out with your caregiver. It’s not easy for us going through it and doubly hard for those helping us along the way. As long as the communication is open and honest, can the walk together work in harmony. wishing you the best! Happy you found this community!

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    1 month ago

    @rhamrin Having a disease as potent as cancer can cause conflicts in families and even with friends. There are no tried-and-true solutions to every situation, but being honest with your caregiver about how you feel can sometimes help. And, I’m afraid, sometimes it doesn’t. But please remember you don’t always have to go it alone. If you attend church perhaps your pastor or another person there, who may be aware of what you are going through with you caregiver, can help. And, Shayla.Oakes advice. (see comment below) is good.

  • rhamrin
    1 month ago

    Thank you so much. We have talked and things are better. It will be a process of learning when to lean in, when to lean away. I continue to focus on the good and am grateful to have the help.

  • Shayla.Oakes moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi, @rhamrin. This is a tough question. I am so sorry that you are not only experiencing illness, but stress with your caregiver. That is the last thing that you need in your healing process. My suggestion to you would be to speak openly and honestly about your concerns with your caregiver. Also, maybe speak with your physician (if you haven’t already) about referrals for an Oncology Social Worker. They really can help assist with a plan for financial and emotional support. I am attaching a link for more information about what they do. https://blood-cancer.com/living/advocate-social-work/ Lastly, please continue to reach out to communities such as this. There are many people here that care about you, and understand what you are going through. Best, Shayla

  • rhamrin
    1 month ago

    The online communities are so helpful. I really don’t know what I’d do without them. I do see a social worker at my cancer clinic too. The loss of independence is hard on me, but I have to be honest about what the caregiver’s role is in my frustration, and what is solely my own. It is so nice to have the help and support. Thank you so much for your advice!

  • Cocopuff816
    2 months ago

    Yesterday was my my birthday and thank God for longtime time friends and my granddaughter, it was a very nice day. Things are about the same as far as family is concerned but my health remains good . I have a repeat MRI and CAT Scan scheduled in 2 week’s and hoping for a positive outcome. The positive comments are very comforting and I can’t ever tell y’all how they help me deal with complex situation, thank you again.

  • Cocopuff816
    2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this important information. My diagnosis of Essential Thrombocytemia and then 1 year later the diagnosis of stage 4 lymphoma ,literally tore my family apart. After
    4 interceccal treatments and 2 more R-Chop treatments to go an issue surfaced I wasn’t aware of and was accused of being aware of. Long story short,I cut all ties with in-laws and finished my treatment by myself. I don’t like how things ended but I don’t have to deal with all the unnecessary gossip and negativity. Thank you again for confirming what I all ready knew.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 months ago

    @cocopuff816 Wow. It sounds like you really had some difficult people to deal with. It couldn’t have been easy. I hope, in the long run, they will see your need for support and things between you can heal. But in the meantime, it is good that you’ve done what you needed to do to make things easier for you. Godspeed.

  • Carole McCue
    2 months ago

    Jim,
    Your words are so true. We must eliminate drama. I believe that my hospital admission after my first chemo was due to a family toxic situation.I had to learn to eliminate the toxic situation.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 months ago

    @cmccue I’m sorry you had to endure that. It can be hard when people make it difficult for you. It might be easier for a healthy person, but we definitely don’t need it. I’m glad you were able to fix the “toxic situation.” I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but you did what was best for you.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    That’s so sad. I hope everything is better for you now.

  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    2 months ago

    Oh my… I am such a supporter of everything you say here. You are so so so right in that we must relieve ourselves of the toxicity in order to fully heal. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    Yes – getting of all the toxins in our lives definitely helps!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    Excellent advice! My daughter felt stress contributed to her getting cancer. I’m not sure if stress caused my cancer but I try to live as stress free as possible. As far as toxic people – I’ve gotten rid of a few. I thought I’d miss them, but so far, I have not.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 months ago

    @annharper Good for you. It is hard sometimes finding ways to cut the toxic folks out of our lives. But putting up with them is much harder. Like my father-in-law once said, “It’s like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. You don’t know how ‘good’ it feels until you stop.”

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    Lol!

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