Dealing With The Fear Of A Multiple Myeloma Relapse

Multiple myeloma is a difficult cancer to cope with. Even when treatment has been successful and your cancer is in remission, no cure for myeloma exists and a relapse of cancer is likely to occur at some point. For many people, the fear of a multiple myeloma relapse can become a constant source of anxiety. This article outlines tips for dealing with the fear of a relapse of cancer.

Multiple Myeloma Relapse Fears

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to extend the duration of your multiple myeloma remission or reduce your chances of a relapse of cancer. Once you’ve done everything in your power to avoid a multiple myeloma relapse, acknowledge your fears and take some time to sort through your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve over your cancer and its potential return.

Here are some tips to help you be proactive about dealing with your fear of a multiple myeloma relapse:

  • Accept the fact that you can’t prevent a relapse of cancer. Acceptance takes time, but eventually you can be at peace with your situation.
  • Be thankful. Make a physical or mental list of all the things you’re thankful for, such as your family and friends. This list may be short at first, but try to add to it each day. This little exercise helps you appreciate the unique joys of each day.
  • Devote your time to meaningful things. Think of your life as a measure of experiences rather than a measure of time. You can have a lifetime of memorable experiences in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Explore your spirituality. Try looking to spirituality for comfort and meaning in your situation.
  • Get education. Ask your doctor what signs you should look for if you experience a relapse of cancer. Knowing what to expect can help you feel better prepared for the future.
  • Get support from others. Talk to your family and friends about how you feel. Consider joining a myeloma support group or talking to a cancer therapist.
  • Keep a journal. A journal can help you articulate your fears and emotions as you work through them.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. These things improve your physical health and help ease your mental anxieties. A healthy lifestyle also gives you a greater sense of control over your life.
  • Stay busy. Although you should deal with your fears, sometimes you just need to distract yourself from them.
  • Stick to your follow-up care regimen. Attend your regular checkups and disclose any changes in your health. A bone marrow biopsy may be needed to track progression of the cancer.
  • Try relaxation techniques. Try going for a walk, listening to music, taking a warm bath or pursuing a pastime that relaxes you.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2009). Living with uncertainty: The fear of cancer recurrence. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from
http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002014-pdf.pdf

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-survivor/CA00071

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Facing forward: Life after cancer. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment