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Way back when I wasn’t dealing with cancer yet, there was a female colleague who got diagnosed with it. Her condition was a hush-hush topic around the office, although everyone seemed to be up-to-date about her well-being. People became extra caring to this person as well, to the point that they didn’t allow her to carry the laptop bag or a bunch of files.
As for me, well, I didn’t talk to the colleague much. The ultimate reason was that I had no clue of what to say to a cancer patient. Was it cool to ask if she was okay when I already knew that she’s far from feeling that way? Would she become offended if I compliment her new hat that covered the baldness brought by radiation therapy?
Ever since experiencing almost the same things that that person had to go through to beat the C word, though, I can now tell you the things that cancer patients don’t want – or need – to hear from anyone.
Advice Regarding Activities They Should Have Done To Prevent It
The initial topic you should avoid is the one that involves the stuff that the ill folks should have or have not done to thwart the illness. You don’t have to become Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All and enumerate the things they did wrong in the past. That is their doctor’s job, not yours.
The best subject matter to focus on is the activities they can do now to keep the cancer cells from spreading. You may also get out of your way to search for those happenings on the patient’s behalf so that they realize that you genuinely care.
Questions About Survival Rate
Furthermore, you need to stop yourself from asking about the number of months or years that patients of a specific type of cancer have before succumbing to the disease entirely. That will be no different from inquiring when you’ll have to send flowers to their funeral.
There are better questions to throw than that, you know. “What foods can you have?” “Do you want me to accompany you on your next treatment?” “Would you like me to drive you home today?” As long as you don’t ask regarding their survival rate, it’s all good.
Being Compared With The Person They’re Talking To
It’s an unspoken rule that you should never compare your previous health scares to that of another human being who deals with cancer when you have never had that disease. For one, you won’t be able to fathom the pain they experience before, during, and after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The treatment may only go on for a few weeks, but the side effects might still be apparent even if a year already passed.
It’s also rude to speak of the possibility of getting misdiagnosed, especially when the fellow has blood cancer. The symptoms of leukemia, for instance, are as bright as the day since the bruises appear in odd places and wounds don’t heal immediately.
Finally, you ought to keep in mind that cancer patients want don’t want to hear nothing from you. They may have thought long and hard before deciding to tell you the scope of their health condition. The least you can do is react to it in any way.
When you choose to stay silent because you don’t know how to comfort that individual, it’s likely for them to take your speechlessness wrongly. They might assume that you feel disgusted or that you are already coming up with a plan to cut ties with them. Though both ideas are far from reality, they won’t know the truth if your mouth remains shut.
Thus, even if you can’t form coherent sentences after hearing the unfortunate news, you shouldn’t forget to say something. Anything is better than nothing, after all.
You can’t always expect people to know the right words to say in front of an ill individual. Cancer is known as a terrifying illness; that’s why some folks tend to commit the mistakes above. Despite that, in case you don’t wish to have to forgive your naïve friends, relatives, and officemates all the time, it won’t hurt to inform them in advance of the things you prefer not to hear from them. Ever.
As someone who has had a blood cancer for years, I can tell that a blood-based disease like leukemia can be tricky to identify. Of course, you may argue that a little blood work in the lab may show the abnormality in your cells. However, the challenging part is knowing when you should contact a physician to get that test done.
The reason is that the initial signs of it seem too familiar for people who experience lack of sleep, anemia, or other typical problems. If you want to understand the subtle symptoms I’m talking about, continue reading below.
Physical Weakness And Exhaustion
This signal appears when there’s an imbalance between your red and white blood cells. You don’t get enough of the former coursing through your veins, so you tend to feel woozy and powerless at times.
As mentioned above, you might blame the issue of anemia at first. In case you always take iron supplements, though, and you still keep on feeling weak and fatigued, that may be a sign that you need to get checked for leukemia.
The disease can contribute as well to making your heart beat faster. It doesn’t matter whether you only walked across the room or up the stairs – you may feel that organ palpitating as if you ran a mile.
It’s typical for folks who have cardiovascular illnesses to think that it’s the cause of those tremors. There’s a possibility, however, that the palpitations are due to your heart working double time to give you the red blood cells you lack, no thanks to leukemia.
Bleeding Out Too Much
It seems reasonable for your gum to bleed if you floss too hard. You might also shed a bit of blood if you accidentally prick your finger while attaching a pin to your clothes. What you should realize that is beyond the norm is experiencing bleeding in those areas for days.
The thing is, in case you’re healthy, minor cuts like those should heal instantly. Considering you eat carbs or drink milkshakes rarely, you can’t assume that it’s because you have diabetes. No, leukemia may be the culprit; that’s why you need to speak with your doctor soon.
Getting a bruise near that time of the month is quite common for women. That’s a symptom of the pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. However, for bruising to come, you usually have to bump onto a table or bedpost before the spots appear on your body.
In case you see bruises past your period, or you’re not even a woman, you should feel concerned. Leukemia tends to make it challenging for your blood to clot as it takes away your platelets. In fact, you might notice bruising in random places like the back, triceps, stomach, et cetera.
There’s nothing wrong about receiving a general checkup regularly. It reassures you that you are perfectly fine. Aside from that, it allows you to see if there’s a disease lurking in your body and treat it before it messes you up. You should do it not only when you notice the subtle symptoms above.
What most people know is that we all have inactive cancer cells that are merely waiting to become activated. It is impossible to foresee when it might happen. Hence, for some individuals, it feels like preventing blood cancer may be a tough feat that no one can ever circumvent.
The thing is, how real is this idea? Is there a chance to avoid having cancer?
Before answering that, let us talk about the things that may cause the disease.
You bask in the sun without any skin protection, thinking only of the nice tan you will get from it. You light candles often to relax. You bop to trendy and classic songs with the stereo on full blast. You like to always be on the go, so you cook a big batch of food a week ahead and reheat everything in the microwave oven when hungry. However, what do you get out of all these fun things? Radiation, no less.
In reality, radiation is one of the main reasons why people develop blood cancer. We tend to do a lot of exciting things and embrace technology, oblivious of their side effects. You don’t need to live like a primitive and forego everything that makes life easy, but it won’t hurt to moderate the activities that involve radiation-emitting stuff.
- Insecticides And Herbicides
Some individuals seem big about only eating non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and other people honestly find them ridiculous. “Whatever harmful substance is in those ingredients, they will go away once you cook them,” the latter may insist. As much as you want to agree that high heat can sterilize everything, though, you should realize that it is mostly helpful for killing bacteria and germs.
You see, the fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides used to grow the plants and keep the weeds away are not microorganisms, so heat won’t have much effect on them. They have been created from organic and inorganic chemicals that can enter the body, bind with other compounds in there, and practically make you sick. You can wash the fresh produces thoroughly, but they may be too deep inside the leaves and fruits for your cleaning solutions to reach.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle
Folks who consider themselves foodies may be prone to getting blood cancer too. The reason is that they are more willing to consume different foods, regardless if it’s healthy or not, for the sake of being able to say that they have tried everything in one place. There goes the possibility of eating double-fried dishes, sweets, and other stuff that aren’t good for your system.
The danger increases when you rarely exercise or sleep. The former entails you are always chilling, while the former means you don’t get enough rest. You have to find a balance between the two since such an unhealthy lifestyle can give you the C word in no time.
The idea of self-medicating has never been acceptable in the medical community. Some patients assume that doctors do not recommend it because it keeps them from paying their professional fees. However, the truth is that taking drugs without a specialist assessing the condition first can lead to wrong dosage, incorrect choice of medicine, and harmful chemical reaction in the body.
Self-diagnosis often comes when you self-medicate as well. When you feel fatigue or have a fever, for instance, you might merely take paracetamol. If you experience it over and over, though, you need to stop doing that and consult a medical professional since these are early symptoms of cancer.
Can You Prevent Blood Cancer?
Now that you have seen the things that may activate the cancer cells, you already know that the prevention of the disease is possible. There is no 100% guarantee that you won’t have cancer if you avoid the things mentioned above, for sure. Despite that, not letting yourself be in danger’s way by not using gadgets too much, living healthily, and checking in with a doctor regularly can undoubtedly increase your chances of becoming cancer-free.
Share this article to your friends and family to help them prevent blood cancer too. Cheers!
During the months I spent in the chemotherapy center when I still had blood cancer, I got to speak and exchange stories with various patients and their loved ones every session. Sometimes, it would be young kids who seemed so lively when they arrive. Other times, I would meet folks around my age who merely wanted to beat the C word and live the rest of their lives cancer-free like me.
In rare occasions, though, there would be people beyond 40 years old with multiple myeloma. This kind of blood disease is considerably incurable, so one tends to wonder why these individuals would still subject themselves to a treatment that could never guarantee to heal. Nevertheless, a standard answer I heard was, “I want to live longer. If chemotherapy can slow down cancer’s progression, I’ll take it.”
Other than feeling inspired by the strength that multiple myeloma patients show, I also got interested to know more about this unique blood cancer. Let me share some things I found out about the disease.
It Is Not Interchangeable With Leukemia
Having multiple myeloma entails that your B cells inside the bone transform into plasma cells when an infection occurs. As for leukemia, the bone marrow produces an excessive amount of white blood cells, to the point that the platelet and red blood cell counts become imbalanced. With this apparent difference in mind, the two blood cancers should not ever get interchanged.
The Abnormalities Occur At Chromosomal Level
What scientists have learned about myeloma is that it can affect the chromosomes, a part of a cell that houses the DNA. These usually get numbered from one to 46, given that a human being has 13 male and female chromosomes each. With the infection going on, some of the chromosomes may change positions. In other cases, deletion may take place, so one of the chromosomes may end up missing. Either occurrence can impede the growth of healthy cells.
It Can Be Hereditary
Quite interestingly, multiple myeloma is a condition that your ancestors can pass down on you and other descendants. Once it develops in one family member, it seems impossible for another person from the same brood to show symptoms of the disease as well.
Bone Damage May Be Inevitable
Considering the illness starts within the bone, it is not surprising to know that 80 percent of the individuals living with multiple myeloma acquire different types of bone diseases. Many are in pain 24/7 because of the destructive lesions or fractures that form on the problematic areas. Others may not be able to walk or move and come down with more health conditions since their bodies hardly generate cells that boost immunity.
High Blood Calcium Causes More Symptoms To Appear
When you have myeloma, it is also not impossible for an excessive amount of calcium to enter your bloodstream. Once this issue does not get contained instantly, you may deal with constipation, confusion, and frequent urination, which can only increase the weakness you already feel.
Multiple myeloma remains as a mysterious form of blood cancer. It baffles the medical world due to how the cells change within its core and the fact that African-American men are more prone to the disease than women or others from various races. Doctors say that it is incurable up to this day too.
If it serves as any consolation, though, you should also be aware of the fact that research is ongoing for multiple myeloma. Although there’s no guarantee that there will be a cure in the coming years, the scientists are investigating other ways to treat the illness more efficiently.
Among all the blood cancers out there, lymphoma may be on top of everyone’s list when it comes to the diseases that they do not ever wish to contract. Yes, the specialists can recognize it faster than leukemia because the tumor in the lymph nodes may be determined through physical examination. The symptoms of the illness are easier to detect than multiple myeloma as well, considering the latter only shows indications once it hits a later stage. However, the problem is that most lymphoma patients have to participate in the waiting game before their doctors decide that it’s time for them to receive medical treatment.
The logic behind it is that lymphoma is a highly unpredictable blood cancer. You do not know how long it can take to progress – or if it ever will – so you cannot treat it at once. Some people wait for months; others need to spend the next few years of their life with the thought that they can die anytime at the back of their mind. Hence, it is not surprising that patients feel so much negativity at this sad point of their lives.
Nonetheless, you do know that pessimism won’t help your case, right? That’s one thing you should avoid once diagnosed with lymphoma. If you want assistance on this matter, remember the following ideas.
- Go Through The Tests Calmly
Having lymphoma practically entails that you will need to undergo a series of tests almost every month. The doctors have to monitor the progression of tumors, after all, and find out whether you are ready for treatment or not. In case you are starting to feel antsy about it, though, since it’s as if you are not getting anywhere, you should keep in mind that these examinations are for your own good. It is better to receive a regular update on what’s going on with your disease instead of staying blind-sided by it.
- Don’t Blame Your Doctors
As much as you probably want to get angry at the specialists looking after your well-being for making you wait for so long, you ought to rein in your temper whenever you see them. For one, it is not their fault that your cancer cells bide their time before progressing. They come up with the decision to ‘watch and wait’ because they hope that the tumors will go away and not become triggered by drugs or radiation. Standing by is difficult, yes, but you may benefit from it too.
- Avoid Hating Yourself
When you already know about your lymphoma for a while, but you still cannot get a treatment, it is common to develop hate towards yourself over time. You despise feeling weak. It seems hard to accept that you did not do anything in the past that made tumors grow in the lymph nodes. However, you should avoid thinking like that since you can only rely on yourself to get rid of the disease.
- Stay Surrounded With Loved Ones
After getting diagnosed with lymphoma, it is best to accept the support that your family and friends are offering to you. Talk to them about what your fears may be and how you feel in general. Let them hug you and accompany you during appointments with your doctors. This way, depression cannot creep in your system.
- Live Your Life
Moreover, you should not allow the disease to keep you from feeling alive. It is not advisable to stress over the matter and remain in the darkest corner of your mind at this time. Continue doing the things you love; pick up a new hobby if you must. That can help you not overthink about your pesky illness.
Negative thoughts may come so fast when you have an illness that is easy to identify but too tricky to treat. You have no idea who to ask for help; even the doctors stay on the sidelines and wait until the cancer cells progress. Despite that, you should feel not stop feeling hope, love, and everlasting belief in life as they can always increase your chances of beating any problem, be it lymphoma or not.