After a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, it’s normal to reflect on how you can best take care of yourself.
Most importantly, attending regular visits with your health team to monitor how you’re doing and make treatment decisions is an essential part of managing your health.
But taking care of yourself goes beyond appointments and treatments. There are other steps you can take to improve your quality of life and sense of well-being.
Here are some things you can do to feel more in control of your life and health.
Regular activity is important for everyone. It’s known to help reduce stress and improve sleep.
For people diagnosed with multiple myeloma, staying active can also help:
- manage pain
- cope with fatigue
- strengthen physical function
- reduce anxiety
- boost self-esteem
- improve quality of life
It’s normal to not feel up to exercising when you have multiple myeloma. Your fitness levels don’t need to be intense to make a difference. It’s all about finding ways to move more. Try gentle walking, stretching, or chair yoga.
Bone pain is common in multiple myeloma. It can be hard to stay active when you’re in pain. Consider working with a physical therapist. This type of specialist can help you find ways to stay active that work for you.
There’s no one exact diet for multiple myeloma. But eating well can help stabilize your energy and mood. A balanced diet can also support healing and help treatments work better.
It may be hard to eat enough if you’re experiencing nausea, pain, or fatigue.
Eating something small every 2 to 4 hours may help if you’re feeling nauseous or low energy. Make a list of quick meal or snack ideas to refer to if your energy level is low and you don’t know what to eat. Keep foods like yogurt, nuts, eggs, cheese, crackers, oatmeal, or muffins on hand. Nutritional supplement drinks can be helpful if it’s hard to eat.
Ask for help with groceries and meal prep. Have a friend or family member pick up groceries for you or prepare some meals. You can also look into grocery or meal delivery services.
If you feel up to cooking, consider using tools like a slow cooker or Instant Pot to make large batches. Keep single-serve portions in the freezer, so you have a variety of meals ready to reheat.
Work with a dietitian if it’s hard for you to eat enough or you’re dealing with other challenges. Together, you can come up with an eating plan that works best for you.
Research shows that people who smoke have
The thought of quitting may feel overwhelming. If you’re thinking about quitting, there are resources that can help. Nicotine replacement products, medications, and therapy can help you cut back and quit.
Talk with your doctor about whether alcohol interferes with any of your medications. For many people with multiple myeloma, moderate alcohol intake is generally okay. That means:
- up to one drink a day for women
- up to two drinks a day for men
Higher alcohol intake may have some negative effects. Alcohol can change the
Alcohol can also
Fatigue is common with multiple myeloma. This can be related to the cancer itself or its treatments.
Getting enough sleep won’t resolve fatigue, but it can prevent you from feeling even more tired.
Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Make sure your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature. Use relaxation strategies if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
Multiple myeloma increases your risk of infection. This type of cancer affects plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that helps your body fight infection. Without healthy plasma cells, it’s harder for your body to fight off harmful bacteria or viruses.
Follow these steps to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often, especially after you’re out.
- Avoid being around sick people and ask others not to visit when they’re unwell.
- Stay up to date with immunizations, including your annual flu shot.
- Cook foods to a safe internal temperature.
- Avoid using the same cooking tools with both raw and cooked meat.
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cutting or eating.
Pain management is an important part of multiple myeloma care. Chronic pain makes it much harder to be active and get through your day. Dealing with pain is also exhausting.
In multiple myeloma, there are several possible causes of pain. Plasma cells are created in the bone marrow. Cancerous plasma cells can damage the surrounding bone. Bone pain can be from abnormal bone growth, fractures, or nerve compression. Nerve pain can also be a side effect of chemotherapy.
If you find your pain is not well managed, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Adjusting your medication dosage or the timing of your doses may help. Certain pain medications may also help.
Your care team may refer you to a specialty pain clinic. The experts at these clinics can support you in coping with pain using a variety of strategies.
We all have things that bring us joy. Consider the things in life that make you smile. Life can get busy with appointments. Be sure you make time for things you love. Find time to:
- Visit with a friend who makes you laugh.
- Sit outside in nature.
- Listen to music.
- Curl up with a good book.
These moments of joy can make a big difference in your mood and give you an energy boost.
Mindfulness is an effective way to manage the stress and worries of living with cancer. Mindfulness keeps you in the present. This gives your brain a break from worrying about the future.
These simple steps can help you get started with mindfulness:
- Try a guided audio or visual meditation.
- Practice deep breathing, focusing on your breath to keep you in the moment.
- Take time to notice the sights, sounds, smells, or feel of things around you.
These strategies can help calm your brain and your thoughts.
You don’t have to face your cancer journey alone. Consider joining a support group to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
Support groups can be in person or virtual. There are also online forums where you can post messages or questions. There’s power in sharing your own story with others and hearing about what helps them.
You may also want to work with a mental health counselor. This person can help you better cope with difficult thoughts and feelings you may be having. Ask your other care professionals to connect you with someone.
Managing your health with multiple myeloma goes beyond doctor visits and treatment options. There are many things you can do to take care of yourself when you’re living with this type of cancer.
Reach out for help from family and friends to support you. Your healthcare team is also there to help.