September is recognized as Blood Cancer Awareness Month to bring attention to the types of blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Blood cancers form in the bone marrow where it creates blood, or in the lymphatic system that protects us from infections.
In the United States, 14,000 people have been diagnosed with some form of blood cancer each month. According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, it is essential to not only understand the disease but also what you can do to improve the chances of beating it.
After the fight with blood cancer reaches its end-stage for your loved one, please know WV Caring is here to help give them a quality life. Continue reading for more information on how WV Caring can help you and your loved one through this difficult time.
THREE MAIN TYPES OF BLOOD CANCER
Blood cancers are the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Additionally, roughly every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer. Many lives are affected and changed through the trials and tribulations from blood cancer.
The main types of blood cancer are as follows:
Lymphoma: A group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting network. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes (lymph glands), spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow. Lymphoma can affect all those areas and other organs throughout the body.
The main subtypes are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL):
Hodgkin lymphoma contains the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells; large, cancerous cells found in tissues. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer.
Most people with NHL have a B-cell, MK-cell or T-cell type of NHL. Some patients with fast-growing NHL are cured. For patients with slow-growing NHL, treatment may keep the disease in check for many years.
Signs and symptoms of lymphoma:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Unexpected weight loss
Leukemia: Begins in a cell in the bone marrow. The cell changes and becomes a type of leukemia cell. The leukemia cells may grow and survive better than healthy cells, and over time, the leukemia cells suppress the development of healthy cells. Leukemia may affect red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease that occurs during or after middle age.
- Feeling exhausted
- Unknown weight loss
- Night sweats
- Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side
- Bone pain
- Frequent nosebleeds and infections
- Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
Sometimes CML does not cause any symptoms at all.
With advances in treatment and technologies showcasing earlier detection, the overall five-year survival rate for leukemia has quadrupled since 1960.
Myeloma: a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow. It is a cancer of plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells (also called plasma B cells). The disease belongs to a spectrum of disorders referred to as “plasma cell dyscrasias.”
There are several forms of myeloma:
- Multiple myelomas – the most common type; affects several different areas of the body.
- Plasmacytoma – one site of myeloma cells is evident in the body, such as a tumor in the bone, skin, muscle, or lung.
- Localized myeloma – one site with exposure to neighboring sites.
- Extramedullary myeloma – involvement of tissue such as the skin, muscles, or lungs.
Medical professionals’ separate myeloma into categories that describe the rate of the disease progressing. Asymptomatic or smoldering myeloma slowly advances, and it has no symptoms even though the patient has the disease. Symptomatic myeloma has related symptoms such as anemia, kidney damage and bone disease.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology from Cancer.net estimates 124,483 people in the US who are living with or in remission from myeloma, and there is an anticipation of 12,960 deaths from myeloma in 2019.
END-STAGE BLOOD CANCER
Understanding the symptoms of end-stage blood cancer can help you, and your loved ones make essential, end-of-life health care decisions. Obtaining more knowledge about your loved one’s disease and care options can help you cope.
Acknowledging and being informed of common signs and symptoms show that your loved one is entering the final weeks and days of their life. Knowing what to expect helps relieve anxiety, allows better planning, and gives your loved one the optimal care they deserve during their final days.
WHEN IS IT TIME TO CONSIDER A DIFFERENT CARE OPTION?
As your loved one’s disease advances to its final stage, you may want to consider your treatment options. Do you want to continue with more curative aggressive therapies, hospitalizations and treatments? Or would you rather focus on comfort care and quality of life for your loved one’s remaining time? If you would prefer comfort care, then hospice would be the way to go. Hospice focuses on managing the pain and symptoms of the disease rather than treating the disease itself. It is for patients with a life-limiting illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, depending on the natural course of the disease progression. It is holistic care with a medical component that cares for the mind, body and spirit, and aims to help families better manage medical, emotional and spiritual needs. The compassionate, patient-focused care is individualized for each patient to meet their needs. And, care is provided wherever the patient calls home.
WV CARING CAN HELP YOU
For decades, WV Caring has helped thousands of patients and their family’s transition through life-limiting illnesses. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for patients by managing the pain and symptoms of the disease as it progresses and helps support the caregivers and family throughout the final journey. This support comes in the form of education for the caregiver so they can feel confident taking care of their loved one throughout the process. Also, our team is there to assist with navigation of the advanced planning process if that has not been completed as well as helping to connect with resources that are needed. One of the most important components is to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and family. Bereavement is provided to the family for 12 months after the death of the loved one.
Our goal is for the patient and family to focus on what matters most and spend valuable time together with loved ones and friends, celebrating milestones, making memories and having the time to have the necessary conversations before its too late. This will eliminate the couldas, wouldas, shouldas.
Here’s What WV Caring Will Do for You
At WV Caring, our hospice team is comprised of hospice physicians, nurses, social workers, clinical nursing aides, medical equipment and supplies, medications, chaplains, volunteers and grief and loss counseling.
We offer you and your loved one:
- A program of coordinated care for persons with a life-limiting illness.
- A team approach to care that involves the patient, their doctor, plus the hospice nurse, home health aide, social worker, chaplain and volunteers.
- Care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
- Service is provided through Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurances.
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers at 100% all aspects of patient care, medications related to the hospice diagnosis, durable medical equipment, supplies, volunteers and bereavement services.
WV Caring is ready to help you at any time. You are not alone our team of professionals will provide you the expert care and dignity you deserve.
For more information about WV Caring Services, please visit our website at www.wvcaring.org. Or, if you would like to talk to someone, please call 1-866-656-9790.