If you’re living with leukemia, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why the U.S. Congress established September as Blood Cancer Awareness Month in 2010.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t understand what you’re going through. One MyLeukemiaTeam member shared a quote from their grandson: “‘You know, Papa, I think everyone is on their own planet.’ He's right. None of us really know what it's like to be someone else, do we?”
It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation, because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about leukemia is important so your friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues can better understand how to support you.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics of leukemia. Learn more about its causes, signs and symptoms, and the treatments for the condition.
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer. Leukemia begins when blood stem cells in the bone marrow develop genetic mutations that cause leukocytes (white blood cells) to develop abnormally, grow too quickly, and avoid destruction by the immune system. Overproduced cancer cells multiply in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to symptoms of leukemia.
There are several types and many subtypes of leukemia. Each type of leukemia can have varying symptoms and a different prognosis, depending on multiple factors. Doctors pinpoint a specific type of leukemia during the diagnostic process. Knowing the subtype and specific characteristics of an individual’s leukemia allows a doctor to determine which treatment options are likely to be most effective.
If you are new to a leukemia diagnosis, educate yourself as much as possible about the condition. Talk to your health care provider, and network with other people whose lives have also been affected by leukemia.
After you’re armed with information about leukemia, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about leukemia, share details about your condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about leukemia.
Check out the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s resources you can share to help people communicate effectively with their friends, family, and even doctors. You can also follow the organization on Twitter, where it shares topical information for people with leukemia.
To ensure that your social media messages reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate leukemia-related hashtag like #FightBloodCancer. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests as you do, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it allows other people with leukemia to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a social network for people with leukemia, such as MyLeukemiaTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about leukemia is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for leukemia, play bingo, host a silent auction or fundraiser, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about leukemia while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you have money to spare, consider donating to organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which allows for further research into ways to better treat and manage the condition.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and understand when to put your mental well-being first.
On MyLeukemiaTeam, nearly 9,000 people living with leukemia come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your leukemia journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.