Before you were diagnosed you most likely had no experience of CML—full name, chronic myeloid leukemia.
But what about your doctor? The reality of CML is that some healthcare professionals—even some oncologists—may rarely see CML in their practice. That's why you have to be prepared to stand up for yourself, from the time you're diagnosed.
You'll want to be sure the oncologist treating you has a depth of experience with CML. Invest the time to find one who specializes in it—or at least in leukemia. A hematologist/oncologist is a specialist in treating blood cancers.
Not a sprint—a marathon. Building trust with your oncologist.
The other thing to look for in your specialist is an open attitude, a willingness to see you as a partner in your treatment. You'll want to develop a productive relationship, so it's important to get off on the right foot.
Bear in mind that CML is a serious disease, and the better informed you are from the start about the disease and its treatments, the better you'll be able to work with your oncologist to find the right treatment for you.
Just as you rely on your oncologist's knowledge and opinions, your oncologist will rely on you to be a careful observer of your health and any changes day to day, and to be motivated to stay as well as possible.
Champion your cause.
Circumstances may change. Your response to medicine. And the treatment options. Over the years, science has provided us with different treatment options, so if a regimen or medication or even a particular side effect is having a negative effect on your daily activities, or if your tests aren't meeting your treatment goals, feel free to question whether there's another approach that may work better for you.
Ask questions until you are satisfied an issue has been explored and you're clear about the answers. Use resources like the Internet to connect with other patients or learn about treatment options. Don't be afraid to get the opinion of other oncologists.
Getting the best care for your CML is a cause worthy of an advocate—a champion. Now and in the future. And there's no one better than you.