Tips to help ease the emotional toll of a multiple myeloma diagnosis
If you recently found out you have multiple myeloma, or even if you’ve known it for some time, you might be experiencing feelings such as sadness or anxiety. These feelings are normal when you’re faced with a cancer diagnosis. It’s also common to have these feelings during cancer treatment. They likely will fade over time. But until then, you might need strategies to help you cope with these emotional side effects. Consider the following:
Learn as much as you can about multiple myeloma. Making informed decisions about your care can make you feel more in control of the situation. Ask your doctor about available treatment options and the benefits and risks of each. You can also find additional information at your local library or online, such as on the National Cancer Institute website.
Maintain a strong support system. Let your family and friends know you need emotional support. Consider joining a support group for people coping with cancer, where you can learn about strategies others have used to successfully cope with sadness and anxiety. You might even make new friends, which could have a positive impact on your well-being.
Ask your doctor if he or she can recommend cancer support groups in your area. Consider online support groups as well.
- American Cancer Society: Cancer survivors network. Connect with other people with cancer and their families through discussion boards, chat rooms and private CSN email addresses.
- International Myeloma Foundation: Smart patients multiple myeloma community. Learn about available treatments and clinical trials for multiple myeloma. Hear about the experiences of other people living with the condition, as well as the experiences of their families and caregivers.
- Cancer Hope Network: Talk with a cancer survivor. Talk with or engage in a live chat with a cancer survivor who’s faced and recovered from a situation similar to yours.
- You can find more support groups by visiting the International Myeloma Foundation website.
Take care of yourself. Cancer treatment can put a lot of stress on your mind and body, so it’s important to minimize stress in other areas of your life. Prevent or reduce stress by adopting or continuing to practice healthy habits:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get lots of rest.
- Take part in activities you enjoy.
- Spend time with people you care about.
- Exercise. Exercise can raise your energy level and help you feel better. Make sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise program.
What if emotional side effects persist? If your sadness doesn’t fade or worsens over time or if it starts to get in the way of your daily life, you may be experiencing depression, which may require treatment. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms persisting most of the day, nearly every day:
- Feeling sad, empty or worthless
- Feeling irritable, frustrated or angry over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Lack of energy even for small tasks
- Excessive worrying that may be accompanied by compulsive behaviors, such as pacing and hand-wringing
- Slowed ability to think, speak or move your body
- Thinking obsessively about past failures, or blaming yourself for things you couldn’t control
- Trouble concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Thoughts of suicide
- Headaches, back pain or other physical problems with no physical cause
If you have depression, your doctor might prescribe medication to help manage your symptoms. He or she may also suggest you see a therapist for additional support.