Caring and providing support for someone with cancer can be challenging. Relationships can change after a loved one is diagnosed and you may find yourself taking on an extra role as a caregiver.
Caring for a loved one with cancer is never easy, but arming yourself with knowledge and good advice can help you make the most of your time and resources. Here are some tips if your loved one has chronic myeloid leukemia.
Understanding Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a kind of cancer that begins in the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. It progresses slowly and symptoms are very mild or unnoticeable for years. It can be treated with proper medication, but can become life-threatening without treatment. It’s important to make sure your loved one with CML follows their doctor’s recommendations and takes their medication as prescribed.
Caring for a Loved One with CML
Because CML is a chronic condition, your loved one will probably have it for the rest of their life. Fortunately, because treatment is so effective, most patients spend many years in remission.
Your role as a CML caregiver will likely consist of being an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears. You should ask your loved one what kinds of support and help they need. Listed below are some ways you can be especially present and helpful during this time.
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming so it can sometimes be difficult for the patient to keep their thoughts together during a doctor’s appointment. When you go along with them, you can help make sure nothing is overlooked. Help your loved one make a list of any questions they have beforehand, and bring it to the appointment. Also, bring a notebook and pen and write down important information so both of you can remember it later. Be an advocate for your loved one, and help them get the most out of their time with the doctor.
Depending on the age and overall health of your loved one, they may need help remembering to take their medication or keeping track of which medicines to take at what times. A pill sorter can help both of you stay on top of the medications.
Sometimes your loved one might just want to talk. This may mean talking about the cancer and how it affects their life or talking about anything but cancer.
Taking Care of Yourself
Caregiving is a big job and it can take up a lot of your time. You may feel guilty for wanting a few minutes to yourself, but sometimes you need to put your own needs first. Remember that you can’t take good care of your loved one if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Schedule time for activities you enjoy, like:
- Making time for friends and family.
- Keeping a journal, so you can write about your thoughts and feelings.
- Reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or doing whatever helps you relax and feel like yourself again.
- Joining a local or online support group to find others dealing with similar situations.
Two of the most valuable things you can do as a CML caregiver are being present and supportive. Chances are, your loved one will appreciate any kind of help or encouragement.