Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
A diagnosis of leukemia may be devastating — especially for the family of a newly diagnosed child. Remember that no matter what your concerns or prognosis, you're not alone. The road ahead may not be easy, but these strategies and resources may help:
- Know what to expect. If you or your child is diagnosed with leukemia, find out everything you can about the type, the stage, the treatment options and their side effects. The more you know, the more confidence you'll have when making treatment decisions. In addition to talking with your doctor, seek out information from reliable sources such as the National Cancer Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
- Be proactive. Although you may feel tired and discouraged, don't let others — including your family or your doctor — make important decisions for you. Take an active role in your treatment.
- Maintain a strong support system. Having a support system can help you cope with the issues, pain and anxieties that might occur. The concern and understanding of a formal support group or others coping with cancer can be especially helpful. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be a good source for practical information. You may also find you develop deep and lasting bonds with people who are going through the same things you are.
- Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps you feel in control and can give you a sense of purpose. But don't choose goals you can't possibly reach. You may not be able to work a 40-hour week, for example, but you may be able to work at least part time. In fact, many people find that continuing to work can be helpful.
- Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer. Also, plan ahead for the downtimes when you may need to rest more or limit what you do.
- Stay active. Having cancer doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy or normally do. For the most part, if you feel well enough to do something, go ahead and do it. It's important to stay involved as much as you can.
- What you need to know about leukemia. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/leukemia. Accessed Feb. 24, 2012.
- Understanding leukemia. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/leukemia/understandingleukemia. Accessed Feb. 24, 2012.