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The World’s Leading Authority for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

Can I do anything that I am not doing to help the progression?

This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.

Ask the Doctor Question:

I am a 70-year-old female, diagnosed with CLL/SLL in 01/2021. It was found during my yearly health check-up. I am considered Stage 0 with no symptoms except maybe a little fatigue, but not bad. I have read a lot on CLL society which is mind boggling. As many diagnosed, I thought supplements would help such as, blood builders, autoimmune supplements, etc., but from what I understand only green tea extract or green tea might possibly help.  I am feeling good and feel like I should be doing something.  I am not overweight and generally in good health.  I don’t eat much sugar and drink ph water.  Can I do anything that I am not doing to help the progression? I am a Christian and have such peace most days and will live until I have to deal with treatment. Guess I feel guilty feeling this way – like I should be doing something more or be stressed out.  From testimonials and readings, I think I understand that I could go five or more years before needing treatment. I had two doses of the COVID vaccines, with the last one in 9/2021.  Should I take booster?  If so, when?

Answer: We are sorry to learn of your diagnosis, but we are so glad to hear you found us and are reading and learning as much as you can. You are right! The amount of information is very mind boggling and can be extremely overwhelming, especially at first. Try and read/learn just a little at a time. We will try to address all of your questions, so this is going to be a little long.

  • Regarding if there is any diet or lifestyle changes that can prolong the watch/wait period, there are several resources on our website available on the topic of diet/nutrition. We cannot recommend any one particular type of diet since scientific evidence on the role of diet and CLL has been, at best, scant. That being said, it benefits everyone to try and be the healthiest version of themselves possible by avoiding packaged foods, anything that is high in salt or sugar, as well as staying away from highly processed meats and dairy. There is one study that resulted in the paper, “Adherence to the Western, Prudent, and Mediterranean Dietary Patterns and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.” The link to the article is in one of the resources listed below. It suggested that there might be some benefit to following the Mediterranean diet that includes a high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, boiled potatoes, fruits, olives, and vegetable oil. Here are a few links to diet/nutrition articles we have covered on our website. There are multiple links within these articles that you can also follow to read more about the subject:
  • https://cllsociety.org/2020/06/glenn-sabin-n-of-1-video-on-beating-cll-with-diet-and-exercise/
  • https://cllsociety.org/2017/09/37-trillion-reasons-to-eat-a-healthy-diet/
    https://cllsociety.org/2018/09/the-impact-of-diet-on-cll/
  • https://cllsociety.org/2018/09/food-for-thought-and-for-health-jays-awesome-macrobiotic-cll-adventure/
  • Thank you for getting your COVID vaccines. It is especially important that you get up‑to-date on all of your vaccines now, while you are in the watch and wait phase because that is the period in which your body will react the best and form antibodies as it should. As far as the booster shot, CLL Society is encouraging everyone with CLL to get their booster as soon as possible. While there are many studies trying to determine the exact best time to receive it, for those who are immunocompromised (this would include you) you need to get it now before the national roll-out on 9/20/2021. When the boosters become available to the general public, there may be a supply/demand issue again like we saw during January-March of this year. We just released a couple of articles on the booster recommendations that you can read about here:
  • https://cllsociety.org/2021/08/cll-societys-official-statement-on-boosters-for-cll-chronic-lymphocytic-leukemia-patients/
  • https://cllsociety.org/2021/08/covid-19-vaccine-third-booster-dose-q-and-a/
  • And last, but perhaps most important, please consider joining one of our support groups. We are so glad you have your faith to help guide you through this. It is so helpful to also be able to be part of a group of people who have been where you are right now, that can very much relate to your thought processes and share with you how they have made it through. You will also learn SO MUCH from this peer group about therapies they are on and what has helped them when they have run into bumps along the way on their CLL journey. All of the groups meet virtually right now (since the start of COVID), but you can find one near you by looking at the map on our support group page. You can find more information about that here:
  • https://cllsociety.org/cll-specific-patient-support-groups/