Coping with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) | Cancer Research UK
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Coping with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)

Men and women discussing chronic myeloid leukaemia

This page tells you about coping with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). You can find out about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

It can be very difficult to cope with a diagnosis of CML, both practically and emotionally. You are likely to feel very upset and confused at first. Understanding more about CML and its treatment will help you cope. CML is a slowly developing condition and people can feel well for a long time. It can be cured in some people and well controlled for years in many others. 

You will have access to specialist cancer doctors and nurses, who can answer your questions about the leukaemia and its treatment. It is important that you have enough information to make decisions about your treatment.

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of leukaemia brings, you may have to work out how to manage practically. The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful. There are sections about

  • Your feelings
  • Talking to people – who and what to tell
  • Talking to children
  • How you can help yourself
  • Who else can help you
  • Sick pay and benefits – coping financially

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Living with CML section.

 

 

Coping with a diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukaemia

It can be very difficult to cope with a diagnosis of CML, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control. It is very important to get the right information about your type of leukaemia and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.

CML is usually a very slowly developing condition. It can be cured in some people and well controlled for years in others with biological therapy treatments. You can find out about CML and treatment for CML in this section of the website.

You will have access to specialist cancer doctors and nurses. They can answer your questions about the leukaemia and its treatment. At every stage, you and your relatives should have clear and complete information from your doctors and nurses.

 

How CML can affect you physically

CML and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends. 

You may feel very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially if you are having treatment. There is information about fatigue and cancer and treating cancer fatigue in the section about coping physically with cancer. You may have side effects from treatment, such as skin rashes, feeling sick or a sore mouth. 

If you are having a sexual relationship, this may affect your relationship and sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in the coping with cancer section.

Side effects of treatment can often be treated. Let your doctor or specialist nurse know about any effects you have so they can help to reduce them.

 

Coping practically with CML

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of leukaemia brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. We have information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Just try to remember that you don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. Your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help and they can put you in touch with people who can support you. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

 

More information on coping with CML

Our coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections about

If you would like more detailed information about coping with CML, phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to help. 

You can also contact one of the chronic leukaemia organisations.They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also a chronic leukaemia reading list.

You can find details of counselling organisations that can tell you about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum. Or go through My Wavelength. This is a free service that aims to put people with similar medical conditions in touch with each other.

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Updated: 20 November 2014