Patient Perspective – Appearance

In her latest blog, our patient blogger Vickie is talking about how both leukaemia and the side effects of medication have affected her appearance.

My appearance has always been up and down. It depends on the day, how I’m feeling. Most days I am exhausted, but I always try and make an effort. Then other days I just scrape my hair in a ponytail, hoody on and jeans or leggings. No effort. Plus, you can see I am very exhausted in my face. I am very quiet when I’m exhausted, and don’t really do much.

Having your bad days does get you really down. Even when you really want to make an effort, you just don’t have the get up and go.

I do try and drink water to keep myself hydrated. Plus, it’s good for you. I also watch what I eat as well, like fruit and vegetables. However, if I do feel the urge to have a treat, I will do, especially when I’m feeling really down and exhausted.

The medication we take can take its toll on our bodies. Like my nails grow to a certain length and then break, so I never have nice long nails even though I do look after them. I put hand cream on them and paint them. I also have a foot spa, so me and my children soak our feet in that. We then massage foot cream on ourselves, then paint my toenails; it’s so refreshing and my feet feel amazing after.

When I brush my hair or wash it, I find hair in my hands. I know the tablets I take can cause that as well. I do take care of my hair by putting Argan oil in once a week. I hardly ever use a hairdryer on my hair; I let it dry naturally and, if I straighten my hair, it’s once a week.

My skin is fine, apart from getting bruises easy. I only have to knock myself and I get a big bruise. However, I don’t cover my bruises with make-up. I’ve learnt to accept my bruises – that’s part of the leukaemia.

The most annoying problem I have is my weight. I try hard to eat the right things, but I know I am overweight. However, trying to get rid of the weight is difficult, for me anyway. I don’t know if it’s all the medication I am on, or it could be my age, as I am 42 years old and I know as we get older it’s harder to get rid of. But I can’t go to a gym and do an intense workout because I wouldn’t be able to do it. I suffer with cramps and muscle and joint pain. The pain I am in some days is horrible. I just grin and bear it and plod along. I love walking, but again some days it’s hard to go for a long walk as I am in pain or the next day I suffer. So, losing the weight is hard. However, I try with my diet, I do gentle exercise, and I also love swimming.

Life does change when you are diagnosed with leukaemia. You have the disease to deal with, then the side effects from the medication. Plus, the mental side of it.

However, you should put yourself first. You have a disease, an illness. On your bad days, take time out for yourself – pamper yourself or watch a movie. On good days, maybe try doing something else for you, to cheer yourself up. Paint your nails red. Put that lipstick on. Be proud of where you have come. Only you can look after yourself. Make yourself a priority and don’t let leukaemia rule your life.

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