Patient Perspective: Coping with stress

Our patient blogger Vickie is back with her next blog, where she’s discussing managing stress for Stress Awareness Month.

As you all know, I have chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). I have had it for eight years now and was diagnosed whilst pregnant.

I’ve had to adapt to and learn from my new life with cancer over the years. It hasn’t been easy at all, far from it. Till this day, I still find it difficult to do things, and to even think I have cancer.

Everyone is different how they deal with stress. We do different things to cope. I won’t lie and say I don’t sit there and cry ‘why me’, because I do. I’ve also learnt over the years that bottling your emotions up doesn’t help. I found it hard to talk as I am “Miss Independent” and didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems. But I do now. If they are a real friend, a relative, then they will have time to listen and provide a shoulder to cry on.

It’s stress awareness month. If you feel stressed, as we all do, whether it be your cancer, someone you know who has cancer, work related, home related, just anything that makes you stressed, then talking to someone, opening up to them, is great. It’s a weight off your shoulders. A relief.

I also de-stress in other ways as well. I love listening to music. That seems to really chill me and takes me off into another world.

I also love watching movies as well. I like horrors though, so to some people that isn’t going to de-stress you, but to me it does. Maybe you’re into comedy, romance, etc. Whatever you want to watch that can take your mind off whatever is stressing you for even a few hours.

Walking is great, I love walking. It clears the mind. Plus, you are getting fresh air. I like to walk in parks or woods, where nature is. I love taking my kids walking, when I can prise them away from their computers.

Stress is hard to deal with and can creep up on us at any time of day. Try finding something you enjoy doing which can take your mind off things. Whether it’s going for coffee, or watching a film, do it. Take five minutes for yourself, you are important and you are allowed to enjoy yourself.

If, however, you feel like you’re becoming stressed to the point where nothing seems to be helping no matter what you have tried, then I would recommend seeing your doctor. Stress isn’t something to take lightly.

What you need to be careful of

Treatment for most types of blood cancers will result in lower levels of white blood cells, neutrophils, that would usually fight food poisoning bacteria.  Also, the lining of the gut acts as a barrier preventing bacteria from reaching the bloodstream, and during chemotherapy and radiotherapy this can become damaged, increasing the risk of infection

Read More