This month marks the recognition of ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, childhood cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and thyroid cancer. But, did you also know that tomorrow is day of awareness and recognition for a rarer group of cancers?
Each year, about 14,500 people are diagnosed with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a group of rare blood cancers originating in bone marrow. Tomorrow, September 11, 2014 is recognized as MPN Awareness Day. Living with a rare cancer like an MPN comes with a unique set of challenges that make raising awareness, tomorrow and every day, crucial—so that no one faces cancer alone.
What exactly is an MPN?
An MPN is a disease in which the bone marrow creates too many red blood cells, platelets or certain white blood cells, which can cause complications such as anemia, infection or fatigue as the extra cells build up in the blood and/or bone marrow. Types of MPNs include polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and primary myelofibrosis.
Challenges of living with an MPN
- Getting an accurate diagnosis can sometimes be difficult.
- Unlike the other types of cancers being recognized this month, few people have heard of MPNs, causing those living with this diagnosis to feel isolated
- People living with an MPN don’t always look sick
- Treatment for MPNs is often just to “watch and wait” or is symptom management only.
What you can do
If you are impacted by an MPN, there are several things you can do to feel empowered and live well with your diagnosis.
- Build a support network of friends and family you can count on.
- Communicate your emotional and physical concerns to your health care team so they can help you find support.
- Try to stay relaxed through stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, light exercise or journaling.
- Take care of yourself by eating well, and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.
Want to learn more about this rare group of cancers and how you can help raise awareness of the challenges of living with this diagnosis? Check out this week’s episode of Frankly Speaking About Cancer, and download this fact sheet on understanding MPNs. If you or a loved one is impacted by an MPN, you’re not alone.
Take part in our MPN Awareness activities on social media during the entire month of September by following #MPNAware2014.