LIVING WITH FOLLICULAR LYMPHOMA
Living with Follicular Lymphoma
A diagnosis of follicular lymphoma is overwhelming and confusing. On the one hand, many people live with this slow-growing disease for many years with a good quality of life. On the other hand, managing stress and anxiety about living with follicular lymphoma can be hard on you and your caregivers. In this section, you will find advice on maintaining an active and healthy life with follicular lymphoma.
A diagnosis of lymphoma is difficult for you and for your friends and family. You may feel isolated and angry that you have to fight this cancer over and over again. Your friends and family may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or may feel overwhelmed by the need to provide support. Honesty can help maintain these close relationships. It is important to spend time together cherishing the “little things,” like a walk on a beautiful day, sharing a good movie, or playing with kids. Support groups for you and/or your caregivers may help by bringing you together with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
Diet and nutrition
Healthy eating habits can be particularly beneficial to anyone with follicular lymphoma. Cancer treatments can have side effects that reduce or increase your appetite, leading to changes in your body weight. Eating a balanced diet can help maintain your intake of essential nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Proper food safety (eg, washing hands, rinsing produce, separating meat from vegetables during food preparation) is especially important for you since cancer treatments can weaken your immune system.
You may find that you have several sleep challenges. Anxiety about your disease or other stresses may be relieved with relaxation techniques. Establishing a consistent exercise routine may improve fatigue and mood. Some treatments, specifically steroids (eg, prednisone), can cause insomnia. Taking this medicine early in the day (before lunch) may make it easier to fall asleep at night. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule while limiting bright lights and the use of electronics late in the day may also help.
Any ongoing heart disease, diabetes, and some other conditions you may have can cause certain treatments to be restricted. In addition, you may have a higher risk of side effects during treatment for follicular lymphoma. Following a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent and manage these conditions. Some suggestions include:
- Eating unprocessed, low-fat foods, in particular fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Pursuing physical activity
- Quitting tobacco use
- Limiting alcohol
- Reducing stress
Monitoring for recurrence
It is important to follow the guidance of your healthcare team on any follow-up appointments, while monitoring for unexplained symptoms, pain, or frequent infections. Before any appointments, make lists of any questions you have, any symptoms you have experienced, and all medications (including over-the-counter drugs) you are taking. A family member or friend can provide support and may wish to take notes during the appointment. Maintaining an open relationship with your doctor during this time will help her/him provide you with the best care possible.
Healthy Living. Cancer.Net. Available at www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living.
Living with Lymphoma. Lymphoma Association. Available at www.lymphomas.org.uk/about-lymphoma/living-with-lymphoma.
Talking with your doctor. American Society of Hematology. Available at www.hematology.org/Patients/Your-Doctor.aspx
Welcome to the Lymphoma Support Network. Lymphoma Research Foundation. Available at www.lymphoma.org/site/pp.asp?c=bkLTKaOQLmK8E&b=6292521.