(ARA) - A diagnosis of cancer can be extremely frightening. Along with the battery of medical tests, patients are often faced with an overwhelming amount of information to absorb, covering everything from disease information, treatment decisions to financial implications.
This fear of the "unknown" is often the worst part of any cancer diagnosis. In order to cope, patients often rely heavily on their doctors and support groups to help them translate the enormous amount of medical information into language that makes sense and is most relevant to them and their personal cancer journey. For many, like single mom Robyn Greene, getting the right information about her diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a blood cancer, was critical for both her and her family.
In September 2008, Greene was constantly plagued by severe colds, fevers and stomach bugs. Robyn chalked this up to her 14-month old son who was in daycare, and was often catching colds from the other children. But, after more than 6 months of no improvement, she visited her general practitioner who conducted a blood test in February of 2009. Within a week, Greene received her shocking diagnosis: CML.
"As a single mom of a toddler, I was terrified that I had received a death sentence with my cancer diagnosis," says Greene. "Thankfully, my doctor referred me to a cancer specialist who, after further reviewing my test results, said that he had high hopes for me because patients with CML can continue to live active lives for years to come. Even more surprising to me was that this type of cancer can be managed through medication."
Today, as a result of advances in the understanding of CML and the availability of treatment options which control the underlying cause of the disease, CML can be managed by working closely with a healthcare team to develop the best possible treatment plan.
That's just what Greene did. After learning of her diagnosis, Greene worked closely with her physician to develop a personal disease management plan, including communicating with her doctor to understand her treatment plan, establishing clear treatment goals and continuing to take her medication as prescribed. With proper disease management and support from her friends and family, Greene continues to live an active life.
"Six months after I started treatment, I was in major molecular response, which means that the levels of the cancer-causing protein - known as Bcr-Abl - is nearly undetectable in my body," says Greene. "I continue to work closely with my physicians to evaluate my treatment plan, and aside from a few side effects, I am able to live the full and active lifestyle that I enjoy, including raising my son and working full-time."
To learn more about CML and to connect with other CML patients and patient groups, visit www.cmlearth.com, an interactive global social network sponsored by Novartis Oncology and dedicated to connecting the CML community from around the world. If you or a loved one has CML, look for upcoming announcements on CML Earth about an upcoming Virtual Workshop in September.
About chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
Chronic myeloid leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the body overproduces white blood cells. Chronic means a relatively slower-growing cancer that may take years to progress. Myeloid refers to the type of white blood cell being overproduced. CML is responsible for approximately 10 to 15 percent of all adult cases of leukemia, with an incidence of one to two cases per 100,000 people per year.