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Resource Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

Emotional Considerations

Certainly emotions may be heightened at this time. Undergoing SCT may be an anxiety-provoking experience. It requires much from the patient, his/her family and friends, both physically and emotionally. Virtually everyone experiences some degree of apprehension and fear throughout the process. It is common to feel alternating emotions such as worry, hope, anger, excitement, fear, or even self-pity. Learning about the anticipated course during hospitalization and possible complications can certainly cause anxiety for patients and their relatives, but knowing this information is extremely important. Most transplant centers provide handouts or other resource materials about possible transplant complications. Patients and their families are strongly encouraged to review this information prior to transplant. As frightening as it may seem, knowledge brings with it power and a sense of control.

Patients and their caregivers should consider ways of coping that they find helpful. Asking for help to get through this experience is normal and appropriate. If you feel that your level of stress is overwhelming, discuss this immediately with your physician. All patients will be seen by a social worker prior to transplant. Professional help can positively impact your emotional well-being and will directly and indirectly impact your overall treatment experience. Although there are many different ways of coping, you might find the following suggestions helpful:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to be positive all the time. Be honest about how you feel, and then begin to plan out first steps in coping with your difficult situation.
  • Make time for activities that will make you feel emotionally stronger. It is okay to want a greater connection to your loved ones and yet at other times, feel the need to be alone.
  • Support from others may be a key factor in predicting how well a person will cope with a difficult treatment. Asking others to help may actually reduce a sense of helplessness. Look into all possible resources for help. Let people know exactly what they can do to help you. Talk about your specific needs. Create a list of tasks and designate responsibilities to others if possible.
  • It is important to have multiple caregivers in order to avoid stress and exhaustion among caregivers. Patients have frequent follow-up appointments in clinics after they are discharged from the hospital. Frequency of these appointments can vary among patients and depends on the level of care required. Patients are not able to drive on their own for several weeks and require a reliable means of transportation.
  • Focus on the issues that bring meaning to your life—your religion, spirituality, interests, or passions.
  • Use your strengths. Capitalize on the positive coping skills that have worked for you in the past. Perhaps it was physical exercise, taking a walk, speaking to friends, or spending time on a favorite hobby. If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek help from a mental health professional or support group.
  • Remind friends that your family may need extra support too. Encourage others to offer help to your family.

Often patients and families facing a transplant appreciate being “linked” to a stem cell transplant peer support volunteer. This is someone who has had a transplant and is willing to share his/her personal experience. By listening to someone else’s story and their practical suggestions, you can often better prepare for your own journey. The National Bone Marrow Transplant Link and other organizations have established services that create this match-up whether by phone, e-mail, or written correspondence. It is helpful for caregivers as well to talk to others in similar circumstances. This peer to peer support may be an important complement to medical care (see Resource Listing).

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Table of Contents

History

Introduction

Understanding the Process

Preparations for the Transplant

The Transplant

Pediatric Transplants

Emotional Considerations

The Role of Caregiver

Selecting a Caregiver

Costs

Insurance

Financial Aid

Conclusion

Glossary

Resource Listing

Books

Friends

 

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