If your loved one has been diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of blood cancer occurring in immature cells of the bone marrow, chances are that you have a lot of queries going on in your mind.
It may be extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact, but you will have to be stronger than the patient and put on a brave face, not only for them but also for yourselves. Because caring for someone with Leukemia can be quite challenging if you are not prepared, informed, and organised.
Here are 9 tips for caring for someone with Leukemia:
- Learn as much as you can about the disease: Keep Leukemia updates on daily alert on your phone, communicate thoroughly with the doctor. Remember, there are no wrong questions when it comes to caring for anyone with a life-threatening disease. Learn as much as you can about every aspect of the disease. Go to every treatment session and doctor visit, and stay updated on every step of treatment.
- Learn about health risks: There are a number of side effects of Leukemia, and you should watch out for signs and symptoms that may require a call to your doctor.
- Infections: Chemotherapy weakens the immune system and makes the patient more prone to infections, cuts, and bleeds. Ensure they wash their hands often, and don’t allow visitors who already have a cold, flu or other infections. Avoid flowers and fresh fruits or vegetables because they may carry germs.
- Fatigue: Chemotherapy can leave patients exhausted and tired. Ensure your loved one eats a balanced, healthy meal at regular intervals. Keep them hydrated at all times, and make sure they take frequent, undisturbed naps.
- Bleeding: Anemia could be a reason for frequent bleeding and cuts. Consult your doctor for signs and symptoms you should watch out for.
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite: Consult your doctor and chart out the best diet plan for your loved one to make sure they get optimal nutrients. Usually, these side effects go after treatment ends. However, if it persists, don’t hesitate to check with your doctor.
- Help manage the side effects of Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can be hard if you or your loved one is not prepared for it. Side effects such as loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and mood swings are common. Ensure you’re present at every Chemotherapy session, hydrate at regular intervals, keep popsicles handy to provide variations to taste.
- Be Understanding and Patient: Be flexible and try to accommodate the needs of your loved ones. Remember, they are going through a much tougher time than you are, so it’s imperative you’re patient with their demands.
- Keep them driven and motivated: Encourage them to follow some activities, such as walking the dog, helping with small chores around the house, and walking for short durations every day at a fixed time. Encourage them to find a new hobby such as music, yoga, painting, and other things.
- Caring for your child with Leukemia: A child with Leukemia will have very different needs than that of an adult. The first step is to sit with your child and help him process his condition with full support and positivity. Ensure he is motivated before every treatment session, but also strike a balance between overprotecting and overindulging your child. There may be times your child may feel that he or she is being a burden. In such cases, allow your child to do small chores and involve him in decisions regarding his health and treatment. Support, love, and respect towards anybody going through a life-threatening disease is the first way to help them overcome the period.
Plan their hospital stays: Treatment for Leukemia may require your loved one to stay at the hospital for some time. Make sure all their favourite things are ready in their room - pictures, books, board games, puzzles - whatever they like doing and are close to.
- Monitor their PICC (Peripherally inserted central catheter) line: If your loved one is going through Chemotherapy, it is likely they will have a catheter. Ensure you change the dressing regularly, and keep it clean and dry at all times to avoid any infections. Look out for signs like tenderness or redness in the area, or even fevers.
- Set a Routine: You will have to deal with a lot of changes in your daily life and routine once you start taking care of a person with Leukemia. Simple, day-to-day activities can seem like a chore, simply because there is no helping hand. In times like these, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ensure you have a routine set for yourself as well as for your loved one.
It will get tough at times, but you have to remember that positivity and planning can go a long way in taking care of a patient with Leukemia. While you’re at it, don’t forget to give yourself a break from time-to-time. If you’re exhausted or demotivated, it will reflect on your loved one’s health too. At no point should you make him or her feel like a burden.
If you’re a single parent, seek help from a trusted medical professional, and for couples, make sure you communicate well with your partner and divide all the duties of the house, work, and the patient. Learn to be more understanding of your partner’s coping mechanisms, and work together to make things happen at the end of the day.
Caring for someone with Leukemia can be challenging, especially if it’s your child. Therapy, support from medical avenues, and love of the family are all it takes to sail through this tough time.