• Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow and blood cancer affecting plasma cells, with an estimated 35,730 cases.
• Symptoms may include bone pain, nausea, confusion, fatigue, infections, weight loss, and numbness in the legs.
• Treatments for multiple myeloma include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, and targeted drug therapies.
• Be understanding of your loved one’s feelings, listen without judgment, and offer help with research or physical comfort.
Caring for a loved one with multiple myeloma can be overwhelming and challenging. While staying informed about the diagnosis and treatment is important, it is just as important to remember that your loved one needs emotional support during this difficult time. Here are some tips on how you can help your family member lead healthy life despite their diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
Educate Yourself About Multiple Myeloma
It’s essential to learn as much as possible about multiple myeloma to better understand what your family member is going through. Become familiar with the symptoms, treatments, and prognosis, so you know what to expect during the entire process.
What is Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow and blood cancer affecting plasma cells, which are white blood cells responsible for producing antibodies. The disease can lead to anemia, bone pain, kidney damage, infections, and other symptoms. In 2023, it is estimated that 35,730 new cases of multiple myeloma will be diagnosed in the United States.
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma
The symptoms of multiple myeloma may vary from person to person, but common symptoms include the following:
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent infections
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Numbness in the legs
- Excessive thirst
Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple myeloma, but treatment can help improve the quality of life and increase longevity. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, monoclonal antibody therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy.
While treatment can help manage the condition, it is important to consider how best to support your loved one through their journey with this disease.
Being diagnosed with cancer can take an emotional toll on you and your loved one. It is important to be understanding of their feelings, no matter how loud or quiet they may be expressing them. Let them know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or scared. Here are some other ways to show your understanding:
Listen Without Judgement
When your loved one talks about their diagnosis, listen without passing judgment. This means allowing them to talk without offering solutions or advice unless asked. This also means not using phrases that could sound dismissive, like “It’s not that bad” or “It could be worse.”
Your loved one may have difficulty asking for help, so paying close attention to their needs and offering assistance without being overbearing is important. You can also offer help via research panel recruitment for multiple myeloma research, which can provide crucial information that could lead to advances in treatment and care. This can also be a great way to offer emotional support, as it gives you a sense of being involved in the fight against cancer.
Offer Physical Comfort
It’s also important to ensure your loved one has access to physical comforts, such as warm blankets and comfortable pillows. It is also great to offer hugs and other physical affection, as this can help your loved one feel comforted and secure and that you don’t see their illness as a barrier to your relationship.
Listen to Their Needs
When caring for a loved one with multiple myeloma, you must listen to their needs. They may want to talk about the diagnosis and treatments or need someone to sit with them in silence—whatever their needs are, it’s vital to respect them and provide emotional support. When experiencing symptoms and side effects, talk to their doctor about ways to lessen the strain.
Have Fun Together
It’s easy for cancer patients and their families to become consumed by the diagnosis and all its associated stressors. However, it’s important not to forget to enjoy life together whenever possible! Here are ways to do that:
Spend Time Doing Activities They Enjoy
Take some time to do something your loved one enjoys, such as walking, reading a book together, or playing board games. This will help provide distractions from the stressors of cancer. It is also your way of letting them know that you still value them and spending time with them despite their diagnosis.
Find Opportunities for Laughter
Laughing can be very healing, so make sure to find opportunities for laughter in your time together. This could include watching funny movies or TV shows, sharing humorous stories, or having a good belly laugh over an inside joke.
Give Time for Physical Activities
If their health allows, plan some physical activities that your loved one can do with you. This could include a gentle yoga class or a leisurely stroll through the park. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health for those with cancer.
Multiple myeloma is a difficult diagnosis to cope with, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your family member’s life. Show them your emotional support and provide resources to help make a living with multiple myeloma easier. With love and care, you can both get through this together!