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Symptom Management

Managing Symptoms of Blood Cancer


  • Cancer & Fertility: Some, but not all, cancer treatments can affect your ability to have children. The impact of treatment on fertility depends on many factors. These include: type of cancer you have, type of treatment you get, including location, dose and duration of treatment, age, gender and your pre-treatment fertility status. If possible, it is important to talk with your doctor before treatment to learn about the impact of treatment on fertility and your options to preserve fertility. You may have options to save or protect fertility before and maybe even during treatment. But after treatment, your options may be more limited. Please see the Cancer & Fertility handout for more information cancer and fertility.

  • Cancer & Pain: When undergoing cancer treatment you may experience physical pain. Pain can be caused by the disease itself or by treatments and is common in people with cancer. Pain can be acute (starts suddenly, usually is intense and typically improves fairly quickly when pain relief is given) or chronic, meaning it lasts over time. Having pain can greatly impact a person’s life and usually makes it difficult to do the things you want to. When in pain, it is common to feel frustrated, irritable, worried or sad. Please see the Cancer & Pain handout for more information cancer and pain.

  • Chemobrain and Fatigue: Many people notice “mental cloudiness” and cognitive changes during and after chemotherapy. You may notice that you have difficulty remembering things, that it takes you longer to complete tasks or that you have difficulty focusing or doing more than one task at a time. This is commonly called “chemobrain” and usually improves over time. Please see the Chemobrain and Fatigue handout information about chemobrain and strategies that may help you use your memory abilities more effectively. The link will also provide you with information on ways to manage fatigue as fatigue often makes thinking clearly and remembering things more difficult.

  • Self-Care: Self-care is personal health maintenance. It is an enjoyable activity that prevents/treats disease or improves/restores overall health. There are many ways to engage in self-care. If feeling fatigued or if your time is limited, it is important to know that you don’t necessarily need a lot of time for self-care. Taking short breaks of 15 to 20 minutes during the day can help you feel more refreshed and energized. Please see the Self-Care handout for tips on how to engage in self-care.

  • Sexuality & Intimacy: It is common to have difficulty engaging in sexual activity during cancer treatment. Many of these difficulties are due to the direct physical effects of treatment, but may also be related to factors such as feeling stressed and worried or feeling less attractive due to physical changes. Common complaints include: loss of sexual desire, vaginal dryness and difficulty getting and sustaining an erection. Many of these issues are temporary and resolve over the months following the end of treatment. However, intimacy and sexuality are important aspects of life and problems in this area are often frustrating and disappointing. Please see the Sexuality & Intimacy handout for more information on sexuality and intimacy during and after cancer treatment.

    • Sleep Hygiene: Sleep is very important to health and well- being. Yet, it is common for sleep to be disrupted during cancer treatment for many reasons including side effects of medications and worry about the illness. Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits. It is a variety of different steps we take to have quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. Please see the Sleep Hygiene handout for specific steps you can take to improve your sleep.

    • Steroid Education Sheet: Steroids are commonly used during cancer treatment to reduce or prevent inflammation and decrease immune responses. They also can be used to help treat some cancers.  Steroids can cause several side effects which are important to be informed of. Please see the Steroid Education handout for a general list of common steroid side effects.

    • Young Adults with Cancer: Young adulthood is a particularly challenging time to be diagnosed with cancer since it corresponds with many important developmental milestones (partnerships/marriage, having children, becoming established in a career, dealing with aging parents’ needs, etc.). It is extremely normal to experience a range of emotions throughout the cancer experience: anger, frustration, depression/sadness, anxiety/worrying, guilt, fear, grief, loss, loneliness, and feelings of unfairness. Please see the Young Adults with Cancer handout for some tips of how to cope with your feelings and experiences.