Leukemia (CLL)

« Living With Cancer

‘The Eye of the Tiger’ — Why Mindset and Lifestyle are So Important During Treatment for CLL

Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly University of Kansas

After a diagnosis of chronic lymphoblastic leukemia (and indeed, cancer in general), mindset and lifestyle can make a crucial difference in outcomes.

Dr. Sid Ganguly, Deputy Director of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Kansas Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet that, although diet, exercise, and a positive attitude can never replace the interventional cancer treatment that you and your oncologist decide on, these factors can absolutely help patients tolerate these treatments.

“We call it ‘eye of the tiger,'” Dr. Ganguly says. “You have to have the eye of the tiger to go through this grueling process that is necessary these days to get rid of these virulent and aggressive cancers.”

Positivity, Diet, and Exercise are Key

According to Dr. Ganguly, one of the most important aspects of this “eye of the tiger” is a positive attitude.

“A good, positive mind increases our interleukins, our immune system,” Dr. Ganguly says, explaining that research has actually proven that depression can result in a decreased immune system and increased chance of infection. During the winter especially, he says, seasonal affective disorder has been associated with increased respiratory illnesses.

For any cancer — not just lymphoma — Dr. Ganguly says, it’s important to stay healthy, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a positive mind and positive attitude. Meditation can go a long way, too.

“I’m not saying that lifestyle changes and exercise will stave off the treatment,” Dr. Ganguly emphasizes. “The treatment has to continue simultaneously.”

But when the time does come for treatment, people who have established positive mindsets and healthy lifestyles will “have a better chance of coming out of the treatment with less complications and probably will be able to tolerate it better.”

In other words, treatment outcomes are closely tied with overall health and wellbeing.

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.

Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly is a Multiple Myeloma Specialist at the University of Kansas. Read More

Treating CLL

There have been major strides when it comes to treating CLL in recent years. Since this is a disease that doesn’t always require treatment immediately, we asked top doctors to explain how they determine when and how to treat the disease.

Living With Cancer: How is Leukemia Different From Other Cancers?

Because of the nature of this disease, leukemia patients will typically be seeing the same doctor for years–so this is a relationship that you want to make sure works for you both.

Later Stage

CLL Will Likely Recur & Need Further Treatment

Dr. Matthew Davids
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Doctor-Patient Relationship

Dr. Nina Shah
UCSF Medical Center

Living Better -- What is Palliative Care?

Dr. Elizabeth Comen
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center