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Caring for Someone With Multiple Myeloma

Because Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a chronic (or long-lasting) disease that is also progressive (meaning that it worsens over time), people living with MM may have times when they feel better and times when symptoms return. When symptoms worsen, the doctor may change the person’s treatment.

It is common for someone with MM to go through several of these cycles. The time between receiving medicine, response, and relapse—as well as the number of cycles—can vary from person to person.

As the symptoms and needs of the person you’re caring for change, your role as a caregiver may also change. But there are some things you can do consistently to help, no matter where in the cycle the person’s MM may be:

  • Understand how the disease can impact the person with MM physically. Below are the most common medical issues associated with MM and the medicines for it. If the person you’re caring for experiences any of these symptoms, contact his or her healthcare team.
Common Issues Cause Symptoms
High calcium levels (hypercalcemia) Breakdown of bone
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
Kidney disease (renal failure) Too much calcium and/or M-protein in the blood
  • Frequent urination
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
Anemia Low number of red blood cells
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
Bone damage Myeloma cells crowd out normal bone cells
  • Fractures
  • Bone pain
Reduced immune function Myeloma cells block the production of normal antibodies, which fight infection
  • Frequent infections
  • Delayed recovery from infections
Peripheral neuropathy Certain MM medications, too much M-protein
  • Tingling sensation in the feet and hands
  • Keep track of all the medicines the person with MM is taking. Medicines used to treat MM can also cause changes to the person’s health.
  • Keep an open dialogue with the person with MM. Make sure the person is comfortable talking with you about how he or she is feeling.
  • Keep a running list of changes in health and other issues. Bring this list to each doctor appointment to discuss anything of concern. It’s important to be open and honest about any changes the person is going through, so the healthcare team can provide the best care and medicine for MM.
  • Talk with the person’s healthcare team about the options available at each stage in the journey. That way, you can stay informed and educated about his or her care and become an active participant in making decisions.
  • Help the person with MM stay as healthy as possible. It’s important to encourage people with MM to eat and drink right, rest, and reduce physical activity. To reduce the risk of infection, people with MM should limit contact with sick people and maintain personal hygiene. As MM progresses, you will also likely need to help with more everyday tasks.


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