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Life With CLL: Overcoming Initial Diagnosis Panic

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Published on August 8, 2018

A chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) diagnosis is often overwhelming and unexpected, followed by a flood of uncertainty. How can people move beyond the initial shock of having cancer and feel more in control? Social work counselor Purva Lad, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the typical range of emotions patients go through upon diagnosis, gives guidance for patients learning how to cope day-to-day and explains why it’s critical to your care to work through these difficult feelings. Additionally, CLL patient advocate Wesley Bishop shares his immediate response to cancer, coping strategies, and where he draws strength from.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pharmacyclics LLC and TG Therapeutics. It is produced by Patient Power in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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CLL Global Research Foundation The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Transcript | Life With CLL: Overcoming Initial Diagnosis Panic

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:

Getting a diagnosis of CLL, I have likened to getting hit in the stomach with a baseball bat.

Most people don’t see it coming. In my journey, I’ve been seeing my GP quite regularly, managing my blood pressure, managing my cholesterol, thanks to the family history, and all that stuff, and when my doctor had that head scratching moment, I can’t figure out why your white blood cell count’s so high, I’m gonna send you to a hematologist. And, 24 hours later, I had a cancer diagnosis. I mean, that’s a lot to dump on somebody’s shoulders, it’s a lot to dump into a family environment. How did you cope with that? What strategies did you put in place to deal with the, oh my goodness, I’ve got cancer!

Wesley Bishop:           

Well, you know, initially, I think like everyone, you wanna pull back into a shell, it’s a natural response, I think. But, I’d practiced dentistry for 44 years, and I was blessed with over 8,000 patients, and the day that I had the diagnosis, in Longview, the doctor was a patient, that did the original diagnosis, the CT scan was done by a patient, the bone marrow was done by a patient. And, it didn’t take long that I was on every prayer list in that whole county, and that’s where my strength came from, is knowing I had good friends, and people that cared about me, and wanted me to get better, and that’s happened. 

Jeff Folloder:               

Purva, is that typical? Do most people immediately come up with a strategy that makes that anxiety go away?

Purva Lad:                   

That’s probably the furthest from what I usually see. When I first meet with patients and family members, it’s the very much common, very much expected feelings of fear, and anxiety, and a sense of a loss of hope almost, because of that uncertainty of, what is this going to look like?

What am I going to feel? How is this going to impact me and my family? And so, where I always like to tell my patients and family members to start is just, be open with what you’re feeling. Allow yourself to experience that emotion fully, because unless you give yourself the opportunity to do that, you’re not going to be able to know how to plan. How to talk to your medical team and move forward.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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