Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Healthy Lifestyle

Being an active partner in your treatment plan extends to your approach to nutrition, exercise and preventive health care. Not only can you regain some of the control you may feel you’ve lost as a result of your cancer diagnosis, making smart lifestyle choices can help prepare you for future good health.

Exercise. Studies show that people with cancer who take part in physical exercise feel less tired and have more energy. Any form of regular exercise, such as walking, riding a bike, playing pickleball or taking part in yoga, is one of the best ways to help manage and reduce fatigue. Along with the physical benefits, being physically active several times a week can also improve your emotional well-being.

Nutrition. Making smart food choices may increase your strength, help your body heal and give you more energy. Staying hydrated is also crucial. Side effects of certain drug therapies, such as diarrhea or vomiting, can cause dehydration, which may make nausea, fatigue and headaches worse. Drinking water can help reduce that risk. If you need help making a nutrition plan, ask your health care team for a referral to a dietitian.

Infection risk. CLL can weaken your immune system, which may make you more susceptible to developing infections. Infections can become serious quickly, so it is important to detect and treat them as soon as they start. Your doctor will talk with you about the signs to watch for and what to do if they occur. Ask whether telehealth options are available. Telehealth is accessing medical care from a distance through technology. It is not designed to replace in-person visits but may be an option for certain visits, especially if you are concerned about the risk of infection on public transportation.

Vaccinations. You are encouraged to stay up to date with vaccinations, which may include those for the flu, pneumonia, shingles and COVID-19. Talk with your doctor about the vaccines that are right for you.

Health screenings. Be diligent about making and keeping preventive appointments such as mammograms, colonoscopies, skin exams, Pap smears, HPV testing and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests. Ask your doctor about any additional tests.

Sleep habits. Cancer treatment can affect your sleep pattern, so it is important that you try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. Try for a good’s night sleep every night. Set a consistent bedtime and time to wake up; keep your bedroom dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature; avoid exercising or snacking too late into the evening; and wind down before bedtime by shutting off screens (mobile phones, TVs, etc.).