Coping with Treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Executive Summary

Treatments of acute lymphocytic leukemia result in causing various side effects and alterations to the patient’s body. The results of treatment show variations among the patients. Sometimes the same treatment strategy used for a particular disease condition evolves with different effects. Hence, it is difficult to predict the outcome and impact of a specific treatment. Therefore, coping-up procedures are adopted to mitigate the treatment’s side effects. Open communication with the expert regarding new signs or symptoms experienced by the patients helps plan ways to manage and relieve these symptoms and side effects effectively. The patients seek professional therapies to mitigate the adverse emotional impacts during the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia. The general physical side effects of each treatment option for early-stage and locally advanced acute lymphocytic leukemia are addressed by adopting supportive or palliative care provided by the healthcare team. Patients and their families are motivated to communicate with the medical team about their financial concerns. Several services help patients manage such a group of patients treating acute lymphocytic leukemia. Caregivers are essential in caring for a person with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Effective patient communication with the healthcare team is maintained regarding the side effects.

Coping with Treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

A cancer diagnosis can be overburdening, but you can find ways to cope with stress and uncertainty with time.

Whether chemotherapy or radiotherapy, every cancer treatment has its side effects that can cause changes in the body, either physically or mentally ​1​. People do not encounter the same side effects even though they receive the same treatment because everybody responds differently. 

Coping with physical side effects 

Communication with your health care team about how you feel is very important, so they know any new side effects or changes in the existing ones. If your health care team knows about how you are feeling, they can help relieve and manage your side effects to make you feel more comfortable and prevent the side effects from worsening. 

Sometimes, physical side effects can stay after treatment ends, which are long-term side effects. The side effects that occur months or years after treatment are called late effects. Treatment of long-term side effects and late effects is essential for survivorship care. 

Coping with emotional side effects

After cancer diagnosis, you may experience emotional and social effects that include dealing with difficult emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, anger, or managing your stress level. Sometimes, people find it challenging to convey their feelings to their loved ones. Talking to an oncology social worker, counsellor, or clergy member can help them develop more effective coping methods and talking about cancer ​2​.

Coping with cancer cost

Cancer treatment can be costly. It can become a reason for stress and anxiety for the family and a person with cancer. Cancer cost includes treatment costs and unplanned expenses related to the care. The high medical care cost stops some people from completing their cancer treatment plan, which puts their health and life at risk and can cause higher prices in the future. Patients and their families can talk about financial concerns with a healthcare team member.

Caring for a loved one with cancer

A caregiver is a person that plays a vital role in taking care of a person with cancer. A family member or friend can be a caregiver providing physical, practical, and emotional support to patients, even if they live far away.

  • The responsibility of caregivers may include:
  • Giving medications
  • Providing support and encouragement
  • Helping manage symptoms and side effects
  • Talking with the health care team
  • Assisting with meals
  • Coordinating medical appointments
  • Providing a ride to and from appointments
  • Handling insurance and billing issues
  • Helping with household chores

Taking with your Health care team about the side effects

Ask: 

  • Which side effects are most likely to happen?
  • What can be done to prevent or relieve them?
  • When are they likely to happen?

Always make sure to tell your health care team about any side effects that happen during treatment and afterwards, too. Inform them even if you do not think the side effects are severe. This discussion should include the physical, emotional, social, and financial impact of a cancer diagnosis ​3​.

References

  1. 1.
    Campbell LK, Scaduto M, Van Slyke D, Niarhos F, Whitlock JA, Compas BE. Executive Function, Coping, and Behavior in Survivors of Childhood Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Published online May 22, 2008:317-327. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsn080
  2. 2.
    Sharan P, Mehta M, Chaudhry VP. Coping and adaptation in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Indian J Pediatr. Published online July 1995:467-471. doi:10.1007/bf02755069
  3. 3.
    Farsi Z, Dehghan Nayeri N, Negarandeh R. Coping strategies of adults with leukemia undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Iran: a qualitative study. Nursing & Health Sciences. Published online December 2010:485-492. doi:10.1111/j.1442-2018.2010.00563.x