Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia is typically very successful, it can be a long road. Treatment often lasts 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years, although the first three to six months are the most intense. During maintenance phases, children can usually live a relatively normal life and go back to school. And adults may be able to continue working. To help you cope, try to:

  • Learn enough about leukemia to feel comfortable making treatment decisions. Ask your doctor to write down as much information about your specific disease as possible. Then narrow your search for information accordingly. Write down questions you want to ask your doctor before each appointment, and look for information in your local library and on the Internet. Good sources include the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
  • Lean on your whole health care team. At major medical centers and pediatric cancer centers, your health care team may include psychologists, psychiatrists, recreation therapists, child-life workers, teachers, dietitians, chaplains and social workers. These professionals can help with a whole host of issues, including explaining procedures to children, finding financial assistance and arranging for housing during treatment. Don't hesitate to rely on their expertise.
  • Explore programs for children with cancer. Major medical centers and nonprofit groups offer numerous activities and services specifically for children with cancer and their families. Examples include summer camps, support groups for siblings and wish-granting programs. Ask your health care team about programs in your area.
  • Help family and friends understand your situation. Set up a free, personalized Web page at the not-for-profit website CaringBridge. This allows you to tell the whole family about appointments, treatments, setbacks and reasons to celebrate — without the stress of calling everyone every time there's something new to report.
Sep. 15, 2012