Coping With Cancer Treatment

Educating yourself about what to expect during treatment is one of the best strategies for coping with cancer treatment. How does your treatment work? What side effects can you expect? What other treatment options are available? Knowing what to expect can help you make informed decisions about your treatment and better prepare you for coping with cancer treatment.

Coping with Myeloma Cancer Pain

Bone pain is common with myeloma cancer. If you haven’t already done so, talk to your doctor about any pain you’re experiencing. Your physician will prescribe painkillers or another type of therapy to reduce pain, such as radiation treatment. Don’t self-medicate with over-the-counter painkillers unless you first obtain permission from your doctor. Some painkillers can damage your kidneys and liver, or adversely interact with other medications.

Other pain-reducing strategies include:

  • Applying heat or cold to the affected area
  • Avoiding anxiety and stress (these can aggravate physical pain)
  • Complementary therapies such as acupuncture or aromatherapy
  • Distracting yourself with other activities
  • Gentle massage therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Using special pillows for your back to make you more comfortable while sitting.

Talk to your doctor before using complementary therapies or massage therapy. Depending on the nature of your myeloma cancer and treatment, these may be unsuitable treatments for you.

Coping with Fatigue

Fatigue is a common problem for people coping with cancer treatment. Fatigue can leave you feeling depressed and listless. Research shows that people with myeloma cancer feel better when they’re active, so try to get some exercise every day, even if you don’t feel like it.

You should also make sure that you’re eating enough food to maximize your energy level. This can be difficult when you don’t feel like eating or are having trouble keeping food down. Try eating your biggest meal when you feel most hungry or eat several small meals throughout the day. If you don’t feel you can eat, try drinking liquids that add calories to your diet, such as juice, smoothies and soy-based drinks. Soy-based drinks are also an excellent source of energy-boosting protein.

Despite all this, chances are you’ll continue to have a limited amount of energy during your myeloma cancer treatment. Try doing household chores and preparing meals in advance when you feel most energetic, but don’t overdo it. Take rest periods throughout the day and ask for help from family and friends so you can save your energy for meaningful activities such as visiting with family or working on a hobby.

Join a Multiple Myeloma Support Group

Coping with cancer treatment is easier when you talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Consider joining a multiple myeloma support group in your area. Myeloma support groups are invaluable resources for coping tips, comfort and encouragement.

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-diagnosis/HQ01306

Myeloma Canada. (2010). Wellness: Taking care of yourself. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/wellness.htm

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Coping with cancer: Managing physical side effects. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/physicaleffects