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Living With Chronic Blood Cancer

Mark Silverstein lives every day with the knowledge that some day, he’ll probably have exhausted all available treatments for the blood cancer he was diagnosed with a decade ago: chronic lymphocytic leukemia. 

In the meantime, the 55-year-old Aurora, Ont., resident’s life is a cycle of stop-and-start: making the most of periods during which his symptoms subside, then having to cease work and switch into survival mode when he inevitably gets sick again.

However, Silverstein has also managed to use what he’s learned from living with cancer to help others — and no just through his volunteer advocacy work. 

The support he received at a 10-week program for cancer survivors inspired him to switch careers and become a psychotherapist. 

While in general practice, Silverstein specializes in working with people who are living with cancer and other life-altering illnesses.

Mark was kind enough to speak with me for this piece I wrote on the implications of living with chronic blood cancer that appeared in the Globe and Mail during Blood Cancer Awareness Month (September): ‘The Ups and Downs of Living With Chronic Blood Cancer.

I owe him a debt of thanks for sharing his story despite how difficult it must be to revisit many of the experiences he and his family have endured. I only wish I’d been able to write an even more in-depth piece.

Thank-you, too, to Dr. Mona Shafey, assistant professor in the division of Hematology and Hematological Malignancies within the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

For more information on CCL and other blood cancers, visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s website.

You can also listen to their podcast on how to navigate some of the challenges of living with a chronic blood cancer here

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay