Living with CML

Most people with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) live a normal life-span. To help you stay as well as possible, you may want to make changes to your lifestyle. Even if you had a healthy lifestyle before your diagnosis, you may want to focus more on making the most of your health.

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It is about making small changes to the way you live. This will improve your health and sense of well-being. It will also lower your risk of getting other illnesses and some other cancers.

A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • having a well-balanced diet
  • being physically active
  • reducing stress
  • being involved in your healthcare.

Here are some tips. When planning changes, you need to take any side effects of treatment into account. Try not to do too much, too soon.

Eat well and keep to a healthy weight

A well-balanced diet should include:

  • plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – aim to eat at least five portions a day
  • foods high in fibre, such as beans and cereals
  • plenty of water or other non-alcoholic drinks.

You should also try to reduce your intake of:

  • red meat and animal fats
  • alcohol
  • salted, pickled and smoked foods.

We have more information about healthy eating and cancer.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, speak to your doctor or call a stop-smoking helpline for further advice. They can tell you where your local stop-smoking service is.

We have more information and tips to help you succeed in giving up smoking.

Reduce stress

There are different ways of reducing stress, and they will vary from person to person. Try to take some time for yourself to do something you find relaxing. You might decide to take up a new hobby or exercise. You could try learning relaxation techniques or try a complementary therapy like massage.

We have more information about cancer and complementary therapies.

Some people find it helpful to talk about their feelings or have contact with other people who have been through a similar experience. Others find it helpful to write a journal or blog.

Get physically active

Physical activity can improve your sense of well-being and help build up your energy levels. It reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and bone thinning (osteoporosis). Physical activity doesn’t have to be very strenuous. You can start gently and build up the amount you do.

We have more information about exercise and its benefits.

Get involved in your healthcare

This includes taking your medicines as prescribed and always going to your hospital appointments. If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms between your appointments, let your doctor know as soon as possible.

Understanding more about CML and its treatment can also help you cope. It means you can discuss treatment, tests and check-ups with your doctors and nurses, and be involved in making decisions. This can make you feel more confident and give you back a feeling of control.

Self-help and support groups

Talking about your feelings can help reduce stress, anxiety and isolation. There are lots of different ways to communicate, and they can all help people feel less alone.

Self-help or support groups offer a chance to talk to other people who may be in a similar situation and facing the same challenges as you. Joining a group can be helpful if you live alone or don’t feel able to talk about your feelings with the people around you. Not everyone finds it easy to talk in a group, so it might not be for you. Try going along to see what the group is like before you decide.

We have more information about leukaemia support groups across the UK.

Online support

Many people now get support on the internet. There are online support groups, social networking sites, forums, chat rooms and blogs for people affected by leukaemia. You can use these to ask questions and share your experience.

The Macmillan Online Community is a social networking site where you can talk to people in our chat rooms, blog about your journey, make friends and join support groups. You could also use the CML Support Group’s forum.

I’ve always been sporty. And I eat lots of fruit, veg and fresh food.


I got lots of support from fellow patients – it was a life-saver. They really showed me how to live with cancer and helped me through tough moments.


Back to Coping

Getting support

Find out more about our free support line, Macmillan nurses, information services and support groups near you.

Your emotions

Get help with the emotional issues you and your loved ones might face.

Relationships and sex

Understanding what is happening and getting the right support can help you in your close relationships.