Fighting SLL/CLL is a day-to-day battle, even when you feel real good, the thought of what you have is constant. Every little pain, cough, cut, or ache gives you cause for concern. You are always trying to stay away from crowds, small areas like elevators, especially if someone is on it. When someone coughs, you cover your nose, just by reflex. You try to read stories of others who have gone in remission, hoping that the same will happen for you. I am fortunate, I feel good most every day, but still re-act to all of the above.

I just walked two miles this morning, and as I walk, I take deep breaths, trying to fill my lungs with oxygen, believing that cancer does not like oxygen. Is that belief correct, I don’t know, but some have said it is, so I try it. You see, when you have a cancer that has no cure, but a possible long life outlook, you try everything you can, to stay healthy. You don’t have to fear death, to do these things, there are many other reasons why you do them. Wife, children, grandchildren, testimony, God-given wonderful life, and much more.

For all of you who have just found out that you have CLL (I will be using SLL/CLL or only CLL at times; it means the same which ever I use), or any cancer, consider what you read carefully. Anyone who has been diagnosed with SLL/CLL has a damaged immune system. This means that we are more likely to get infections, and less able to fight them than healthy people of the same age.

Words that your doctors may use are immunosuppressed, leucopoenia (medial term indicating a low-level of white blood cells), myelosuppression (is a condition in which bone marrow activity is decreased, resulting in fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets), pancytopenia (a reduction in the number of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets), thrombocytopenia (is the term for a reduced platelet (thrombocyte) count), granulocytopenia (abnormally low number of granular white blood cells in the blood) – they are all connected to having a damage immune system.

Don’t wait to get help – SLL/CLL patients do not have the luxury of being able to wait for a doctor’s appointment. If you have a temperature, or feel ill, pains in you stomach, or night sweats, get in touch with your doctor or hospital immediately. Do it then, do not wait for Monday morning. Tell any medic, nurse, or doctor that you talk to that you have SLL/CLL, and have a damaged immune system. CLL patients should never have live vaccines – do not have shingles vaccine, or chicken pox vaccine, as well as other live vaccines.

Understanding Our Emotions: At the risk of oversimplifying a complex subject, we shall divide our emotional experience into two main components, the physical and the mental. The first is the physical component of our emotions, and involves all the physiological changes that occur in our bodies whenever we experience emotional arousal. We often refer to such changes in our bodies as “feeling” because we actually do feel them physically. That is, how strongly we feel an emotion is directly related to the physical changes within our bodies. The feeling is a reaction to the physical changes occurring. The body will automatically reach to a stress causing event. Increased heart rate, blood pressure raises, respiratory rate will increase.

All of these physical changes, which are normal and healthy, have the same basic goal: survival of the individual. When the stress is eliminated or relieved, the body usually returns to normal functioning. However, as long as the stress continues, the body also continues to function in a constant state of arousal. During prolonged periods of stress the body will adapt to the stress by creating the physical changes. However, such resistance carries with it a high cost. Sooner or later the body will move into exhaustion, resulting in disorders, even death.

Learning to cope with the emotional stress of everyday life is as important as learning proper nutrition or hygiene. Perhaps Jesus had this in mind when he told the Tempter that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Important as the physical component of our emotions is, it seems only to account for the intensity of our emotions. The question remains, however, what is it that determines the quality of our emotions? What actually causes us to feel angry or depressed or anxious?

The second, and perhaps the more important component of our emotions, is referred to as the mental, component. The mental component is the causal component of our emotions. While the physical component determines the intensity of our feelings. The mental component determines the quality of our emotions, i.e. whether we feel joy, or rage, or hurt, etc.

When questioned about our feelings, it is natural to assume that some particular event or situation has caused us to feel a certain emotion. For instance, we may say that someone “hurt” our feelings by what they said about us. We assume that our emotional hurt was actually caused by what was said, and completely ignore the emotion component of those hurt feelings. The problem with this understanding is that it removes control of our feelings from us, and puts us at the mercy of whoever we let control our emotions.

In order to regain control of our own feelings we must understand the cognitive component that decides the quality of our emotions.

Some light is shed on the mental component of our emotions in what is called the ABC theory. This theory states that it is not simply the events (A) that happen to us that produce certain emotional consequences (C). Between event (A), and consequence (C) lies our beliefs (B), which actually connect (A), and (C).

In short, it is not just what happens to us that causes us to feel a certain way, it is also what we believe, and tell ourselves about what just happened to us that really determines how we feel. For instance, I may lose my job, and feel anxiety due to a lack of income. However, it is not the loss of my job, or the lack of income that is causing my anxiety, it is the beliefs that I am mentally processing about myself in light of losing my job that are actually causing me to worry.

Although the personal responsibility associated with the mental component of our emotions may seem to place an added burden on us at first, it is the real key to experiencing emotional freedom. Realizing my beliefs are causing me emotional stress may seem to add more stress initially. However, if I can understand that my belief systems determine the quality of my emotions, I can then work on correcting my beliefs to alter my emotional responses. I may not change the fact that I lost my job, but I can change what I am thinking and believing about myself in relation to losing my job.

By changing our belief systems, we can recognize the potential we have to control our own feelings.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, THE FRUIT OF SPIRIT.  It is my hope that it will help clarify our thinking about our emotions.

Thinking of all of you out there who have Small Lymphocytic lymphoma and/or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.