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Once you've been diagnosed with leukemia, you may feel a range of overwhelming emotions and you may have a lot of questions. You will need support and help, not just from your doctor but from your friends and family as well. However, making a treatment plan, putting a support team together and learning more about leukemia can help you feel more confident. 

Steps to take for patients with leukemia

Everyone reacts differently when they learn that they have cancer. Some feel afraid, some feel confused, some feel shocked while others are sad. Your feelings may change from day to day, and it is normal to have numerous questions. You may want to know details about your type of leukemia, the prognosis, and the possible treatments. There are answers that are available from numerous places. Before you check the internet, it is best to talk to your doctor and your support team first about the best sources of information to help you know more about the specific type of leukemia, the treatment, and its side effects. 

Your treatment plan 

You and your support team must create a detailed plan for treating your leukemia. It may include radiationchemotherapyimmunotherapy and other kinds of treatments. Everyone's treatment plan is different. 

It is best to discuss the pros and cons of each treatment with your doctor. Ask your doctor about the goals of your treatment and whether or not it will cure your cancer or just slow down its progress. Check how long the treatment will last and ask about clinical trials. Participating in a clinical trial might give you the best type of treatment for the type and stage of your leukemia. 

As for your overall health, depending on the kind and the stage of leukemia that you have, you may already be feeling the symptoms like fatigue. After a leukemia diagnosis, your support team and your doctor should prepare you for the side effects of your treatment. Ask your doctor what to expect with the treatment that you will be receiving. The possibilities include hair loss, skin rashes, nausea, digestive problems, and fatigue. You may also be at risk for infection so you need to take extra care to avoid germs like avoiding people who are sick with the flu, colds or other infection. 

You need to know what you can do to stay mentally and physically well during your treatment. If you are not tolerating side effects well, you can ask your doctor and care team what you can do to ease your discomfort. Make it a priority to get some rest and do not push yourself too hard. Eat a lot of nutritious food and exercise if your doctor says that it is okay. 

It is also important to organize your life after a diagnosis. Your life may be a bit complicated after being diagnosed. A leukemia diagnosis means that you will have to juggle treatment visits, doctor's appointments, time off work or school, insurance and medical bills. You probably won't be feeling that well. 

You can start with these steps to get things in place:

  • You can talk with your insurance company about what to expect in terms of treatment costs and coverage. You will need help managing everything, so you need to consider asking a loved one to help you with the bills and paperwork.
  • Get help taking care of family duties and household work, a close friend may be willing to manage these duties among a group of other friends and family members.
  • Find someone who can go to the doctor's appointments with you. In that way, you can learn about your new treatment options together.
  • Talk with your boss about how to handle missed work, you may be able to work from a home office on days when you are not feeling your best.
  • Also, look for a smartphone application that can help you manage everything, like the Cancer.Net mobile app from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

Everyone's experience after a leukemia diagnosis is different. It is still best to prepare as much as you can to make your journey as smooth as possible.  

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