Note: This post is based on my own feelings about the relationship between stress and leukemia. The very fact that it is based on my opinion means it is not scientific. I can’t say for sure that there is any link between Leuk and high stress levels, in fact even with all the studies no one is certain.
Except for a run of flu episodes during my teenage years, I have enjoyed good health throughout most of my life. That changed in September of 2009 when Leuk first showed up.
Prior to being diagnosed with leukemia I was under intense stress for several years. In fact it was non-stop from 2001 through 2008 with a couple more years of ‘coming down’ afterwards. I don’t want to go into my personal life here and tell the actual causes of that stress but I can use two symptoms to indicate just how bad it was.
Blood pressure: My blood pressure is very good, usually about 110/68, sometimes 106/67. But during a particularly hard time it shot up to 130.
Intestinal issue: In 2008 my small intestine tied itself in a knot. That isn’t the medical term but that is essentially what happened. The pain felt like I’d been stabbed with a knife. It could have been life threatening and I had to have surgery to take care of it. The doctor commented that it was unusual for a man of my age and health to have such a problem. He usually saw it in patients who had had previous surgeries on their intestines.
Leuk arrived just over a year after in 2009. From my perspective the link is indisputable.
It has been shown that stress can suppress the immune system. But does a weaker immune system lead to cancer? Well, there is no conclusive evidence. You can find research that argues for and against it.
All I can say is I was very healthy before Leuk arrived. But then, after enduring eight hard years of constant, 24 hour, oppressive stress he came knocking.
I also have evidence of a more positive nature. If you look at my blood test history (see Score Card page), you will see a constant increase in white blood cell and lymphocyte counts, but over the last few years those numbers have leveled out – going up and down but not continuing the steady climb of previous years.This follows almost exactly the time period when I finally was recovering from those dark years. I have continued to gradually let go of that time and now live a much more peaceful life.
So. I plan to start going to bed earlier and getting up before everyone else for a few minutes to meditate. Not any religious or ‘New Agey’ crap, but simple sitting, relaxing, and clearing my mind. We’ll see how it goes. Besides, even if stress had nothing to do with my leukemia, keeping myself more relaxed will have a positive effect on the quality of my life.
Here’s some links on the subject you might be interested in: Effect of Stress on Blood Cancers, Cancer Related Insomnia, Psychological Stress and Cancer, Do Stress Responses Promote Leukemia?, Meditation for People with Cancer, Massage Therapy for People with Cancer, Yoga for Cancer Patients.