Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is an uncommon type of cancer. Because it affects the blood, you’ll be referred to a hematologist-oncologist, which is a physician who specializes in diseases of the blood and cancer. CML and its treatment require different types of medical care. Along with your CML specialist, your healthcare team may also include a social worker, nutritionist, and other nurses who are trained in oncology.
Diagnosis, treatment, and appointments with different members of your medical team can be overwhelming, making it difficult to remember questions you may have about your condition and treatment. Here are some topics to discuss at your next appointment.
Once you have been diagnosed and learned the phase of your CML, you’ll want to speak to your doctor about your treatment options. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- What treatment do you recommend and why?
- How long will treatment last?
- What will my treatment entail?
- What side effects can I expect?
- Is there anything I should avoid during treatment, like certain foods, medications, or alcohol?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- Is there anything I need to do to prepare for treatment?
- What other treatment options are available?
- Am I a candidate for a stem cell transplant?
- What are the chances that my CML will return once in remission?
- What kind of follow-up will I need after I’m finished treatment?
Both your condition and treatment can cause symptoms. Discuss any symptoms you’re concerned about with your doctor or nurse, and be sure to mention the following:
- the symptoms you’re experiencing
- how often and how severe your symptoms are
- how your symptoms are affecting your lifestyle
- what provides relief and what doesn’t
Also, ask your doctor or nurse what medications can be taken to relieve your symptoms.
It’s important to mention any emotional symptoms you may be experiencing as well, such as anxiety and depression. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating and difficult to comprehend. A medical or clinical social worker can assist with the emotional and psychological issues that your diagnosis can cause you and your loved ones.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can help make you stronger and healthier during your treatment. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly are things that you can do to feel your best during and after treatment.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recommends eating a diet that consists of:
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat protein (lean meats, poultry, and fish)
- low-fat dairy
- whole grains
A nutritionist specializing in cancer can offer specific guidance on food, nutrition, and other lifestyle changes that can help you feel your best during treatment. Every patient is different, so suggestions will be made based on your treatment, age, and overall health.
Treatment can impact your appetite and the way certain foods taste. Your nutritionist can help you meet your nutrition goals and deal with any challenges you may be having with eating. Be sure to let them know if side effects of treatment, such as nausea or mouth sores, are making it difficult to eat. Together you can ensure that your body gets the calories and nutrients it needs to remain strong for treatment.
Along with eating a balanced diet, regular exercise is also recommend. Exercise can:
- increase energy levels
- improve your outlook and make you feel more positive
- reduce stress and anxiety
- alleviate depression
- improve cardiovascular health
Always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Getting the Most from Your Appointments
You’re bound to have questions and concerns between appointments that are not listed here. The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Writing down questions as you think of them.
- Taking someone with you or recording the appointment to remember the information given by your healthcare team.
- Getting copies of all of your medical records and reports.
Besides using the Internet as a resource, information brochures and other printed materials on your condition and treatment can help you get the answers you’re looking for.