If you’re living with lymphoma, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why the U.S. Congress established September as Blood Cancer Awareness Month in 2010.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation, because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about lymphoma is important so that your friends, family, and acquaintances can learn how to best show their support.
“Don't be afraid, and always [ask] questions,” advised one MyLymphomaTeam member. “Knowledge is necessary to continue treatment because of constant changes.”
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics about lymphoma. Learn more about lymphoma’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments.
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when certain types of white blood cells called lymphocytes develop abnormally and crowd out healthy cells. Lymphoma is split into two main categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Lymphoma starts in the lymph nodes and vessels of the lymphatic system. When lymphocytes develop genetic mutations, the abnormal cells can grow faster and live longer than healthy cells. Like other cancers, lymphoma is caused by genetic mutations that allow cells to divide and grow in a disorganized way. Mutations can be inherited or acquired. Acquired mutations are caused by normal aging, as well as exposure to carcinogens, such as radiation, certain chemicals, smoking, and some viruses.
Once you’re armed with information about lymphoma, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about lymphoma, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about lymphoma.
Check out the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s resources you can share to help people communicate effectively with friends, family, and even doctors. You can also follow the organization on Twitter, where it shares topical information for people with lymphoma.
To ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate lymphoma-related hashtag, like #FightBloodCancer. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with lymphoma to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a social network for people with lymphoma, such as MyLymphomaTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about lymphoma is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for lymphoma, play bingo, host a silent auction or fundraiser, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about lymphoma while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you have money to spare, consider donating to organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which allows for further research into ways to better treat and manage the condition.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On MyLymphomaTeam, more than 8,000 people living with lymphoma come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your lymphoma journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.