10 Tips for Staying Positive During Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment
- Embrace the power of a positive attitude.Fighting cancer, especially a cancer like acute myeloid leukemia (AML), is hard. It’s hard on the body, and it takes a toll on your emotional well-being, too. Staying positive during leukemia treatment can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Finding a few effective coping strategies can help you stay focused on achieving the best possible quality of life.
- 1. Learn about your diagnosis.It’s easy to be afraid of the unknown—and it’s easy to feel powerless as a result. But you can regain a sense of control by learning as much as you can about AML. Ask your oncology team for resources that you can read and study. You might also seek resources through Cancer.net and the American Cancer Society. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare team about anything you don’t understand.
- 2. Join a support group.Staying positive during cancer treatment can be a lot easier if you have other people cheering you on. A support group can be just the ticket, especially since the other participants will have their own insights into cancer treatment. You can even find inspiration from the other members, or strategies for coping with pain or other side effects of treatment. Your local cancer center may have a support group for people with acute myeloid leukemia. Also, the American Cancer Society maintains a searchable database of resources, including cancer support groups, which you can use to track down a group in your area.
- 3. Surround yourself with supporters.A support group is great, but having a good support network to call upon, day in and day out, is just as, if not more, important. When you’re feeling low, one of your friends or family members can provide some much-needed encouragement. And when you feel fatigued and listless, which is not uncommon for people going through AML treatment, they might be able to provide other kinds of support, too, like meals or help with chores and other household tasks.
- 4. Talk with a counselor.When you’re feeling distressed, a trained mental health counselor can be an excellent source of perspective. A counselor can help you address your fears and provide tools so you feel less overwhelmed. A counselor can also help you develop coping strategies and tackle concerns that might be causing you grief, such as financial worries, relationships problems, or anxiety about your career.
- 5. Help someone else.There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from helping out another person in need. Be that person. Capitalize on activities you feel capable doing, since you may be tired or nauseated during treatment. Or make plans to volunteer or help someone in need when you finish treatment. You could even act as a “cancer buddy” to a fellow patient who needs someone to hold their hand and encourage them.
- 6. Reacquaint yourself with a passion.What makes you feel happy? What hobbies or interests have given you pleasure in the past? When you’re going through cancer treatment, finding something that provides a small ray of sunshine can be a huge mood booster. Dig out those old baseball cards or relearn how to crochet. Watch ballroom dancing videos if you love to dance but don’t quite feel ready to put your dancing shoes back on. Read articles or books about mountain climbing and live vicariously through the author. Whatever you love, find a way to include it in your life.
- 7. Keep a gratitude journal.Gratitude journals recently become popular because they reinforce the idea that you’ll feel more positive if you focus on good things, no matter how small. If the idea of keeping a whole journal is too daunting, then just consider making a mental list. Every day, come up with one new thing for which you are grateful.
- 8. Make sleep a priority.Sleep can be elusive when you’re feeling anxious or depressed, or even just exhausted from your cancer treatment. But a lack of sleep can make you feel even more anxious or despairing. You’re more likely to feel positive if you’re well rested. Put in a conscious effort to improve your sleep quality. Make your bedroom a cool, dark haven, and try to stick to a routine when it comes to going to bed and waking up.
- 9. Pamper yourself.Consider the activities that make you feel nurtured and pampered. Why not embrace them while you’re going through cancer treatment? If your skin is dry and itchy from treatment, invest in a lotion that calms your skin. If a soft new blanket or sweater comforts you, enjoy it. Consider it a small act of kindness you’re performing for someone who really needs it: you!
- 10. Stay on top of pain management.Unfortunately, pain can and often does accompany cancer treatment. Make it a priority to stay on top of the situation and take the pain medications as directed by your doctor. Stay on a schedule so you don’t experience “breakthrough pain” when your last dose of medication starts to wear off before you can take the next dose. And if your pain suddenly gets worse, call your doctor right away.
Staying Positive During Leukemia Treatment | Treating Leukemia