Finally, you’ve completed your multiple myeloma treatment. Perhaps you feel like you’re leaving behind the protection and support of your medical team and heading off on your own into the uncertainty of the future. You’re not alone. Many other cancer survivors share the same feelings.
Living with Multiple Myeloma
Cancer is a life-changing event and living with multiple myeloma can be very difficult. During your multiple myeloma treatment, you probably had to set aside many of your normal everyday activities. Now that your treatment is over, you’re faced with deciding which of these activities to pick up again. These are difficult decisions and you should take your time making them.
Many people use this time as an opportunity to reevaluate their priorities and make positive life changes. For example, some choose a healthier lifestyle, find greater appreciation in life’s small joys and spend more time with family and friends and less time on things that don’t really matter. Some people choose to become multiple myeloma advocates to offer support for others with the disease.
Whatever you choose to do, your physical and emotional health should be at the top of your priority list.
Multiple Myeloma and Diet
If your multiple myeloma treatment has caused you to lose or gain weight, you should work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The American Cancer Society (2010) recommends that cancer survivors eat a healthy, balanced diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Choose lean meats such as poultry and fish, and limit your intake of red meat and processed meats.
Wash your produce well and cook your meat thoroughly to remove all bacteria and avoid infection. Although doctors don’t usually recommend a specific diet for multiple myeloma, your doctor may recommend a neutropenic or low bacteria diet if you’re at a high risk for infections.
Enjoy the Beneficial Effects of Exercise
Exercise can improve your mood, reduce fatigue and strengthen your bones. The American Cancer Society (2010) recommends that cancer survivors get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week to fully enjoy the effects of exercise.
Living with multiple myeloma may mean that you can’t do all the physical activities you used to do. High-impact activities such as jogging can be very dangerous if multiple myeloma has left your bones more fragile. Look into low-impact activities such as swimming, walking and yoga. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
Living with Multiple Myeloma: Your Emotional Health
As you adjust to living with multiple myeloma, you may be faced with a whole range of mixed emotions about the present and fears about your future. Take some time to work through these emotions on your own and with your family. Consider joining a multiple myeloma support group so you can talk to others who understand exactly what you’re going through.
American Cancer Society. (2010). Multiple myeloma. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003121-pdf.pdf
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-survivor/CA00070
Myeloma Canada. (2010). Wellness: Taking care of yourself. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/wellness.htm
National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Facing forward: Life after cancer. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment