Life after treatment for leukaemia
For most people, the leukaemia experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the leukaemia is coming back.
Some people say that they feel pressure to return to “normal life”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had leukaemia, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after treatment.
For more on this, see Living well after cancer
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After your treatment, you will have regular appointments to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and check that the leukaemia hasn’t come back or progressed. During these check-ups, you will usually have a physical examination and blood tests, and you may have a chest x-ray and scans.
If you are taking TKIs for CML on a long-term basis, you will also need to have ongoing blood tests to measure the BCR-ABL gene. This is a requirement of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which covers most of the cost of the TKIs.
When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the leukaemia and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety. Between check-ups, let
your doctor know immediately of any symptoms or health problems.
Dealing with feelings of sadness
If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.
Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
The Thing About Cancer podcast
Listen to our podcast The Thing About Cancer for information and insights that can help you navigate through the challenges of living with cancer.
Looking after yourself
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment. Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise after a cancer diagnosis, Complementary therapies, Emotions and cancer, Nutrition and cancer, Sexuality, intimacy and cancer, Fertility and cancer, and Living well after cancer.
|Alternative therapies are therapies used instead of conventional medical treatments. These are unlikely to be scientifically tested and may prevent successful treatment of the cancer. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies as a cancer treatment.|
Dr Kate Melville, Haematology Staff Specialist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Lecturer, The University of Newcastle; Karl Jobburn, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Haematology, Liverpool Hospital; Patricia Masters, Consumer; Karen Robinson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Emma Verner, Staff Specialist, Haematology, and Medical Director, Bone Marrow Transplant and Apheresis Unit, Concord Hospital, and Clinical Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.