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Living with Myeloma: Practical Advice for Managing Symptoms and Side Effects

Multiple Myeloma Stages
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Introduction: Myeloma is a form of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow. It can cause lesions to grow in the bones and spinal column, which can lead to fractures and even death. The symptoms of myeloma often mimic other illnesses, so it may be hard for your doctor to diagnose early on. After diagnosis, you’ll need a treatment plan that helps manage your symptoms as well as possible so that you can live as normal a life as possible while fighting this disease.

Learn about the symptoms of myeloma:

Myeloma is a cancer that affects the bone marrow. It can cause many different symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain or tenderness in the bones of your body (particularly those near the spine)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

These symptoms are most common in older people with myeloma. But they can also be caused by other conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about what’s going on so that he or she can help figure out what’s causing them and how best to treat them!

Get to know your doctor:

Your doctor is your best resource for understanding your disease and finding the right treatment. Some of the things you can do to get the most out of your appointments include:

  • Tell your doctor about any symptoms or side affects you are experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to myeloma. For example, if you have trouble sleeping at night because of pain in your bones or joints, this may mean that there’s an infection somewhere in the body that needs attention before it becomes serious enough to cause organ failure or death (a condition called sepsis).
  • Ask questions about myeloma so that you understand more about what causes it, how it affects different people differently depending on their age and gender as well as genetic makeup (family history), lifestyle choices like diet and exercise habits plus other factors such as geographic location where one lives because some places may have higher levels than others.
  • Also, ask your doctor about the best multivitamins and supplements which you can take to gain strength and energy. 

Find the right medication:

The right medication is key to managing myeloma. Doctors will recommend a combination of treatments, including medication, surgery and radiation therapy.

The types of medications used to treat myeloma vary based on several factors:

  • Your age and overall health
  • The stage of your cancer (how far it has spread)
  • Whether you have been diagnosed with other conditions that affect the way your body absorbs or processes drugs

Use complementary therapies:

Complementary therapies are treatments that are not part of standard medical practice. Complementary therapies may be used in addition to conventional medicine or on their own.

There are many complementary therapies that can be helpful in managing myeloma symptoms and side effects, including:

  • Acupuncture – a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to treat pain, illness or other problems. The practice has been shown to reduce pain associated with some types of cancer treatment (including chemotherapy), improve quality of life for people living with cancer and relieve symptoms related to other diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 1; and if you are already suffering from diabetes mellitus then consult a diabetes specialist ASAP! however, there is limited evidence supporting its use as an alternative treatment for myeloma specifically so speak with your doctor before starting any new treatment plan involving acupuncture. 
  • Massage therapy – massage therapists apply pressure through their hands or forearms onto tense muscles throughout your body which helps reduce stress levels. 
  • Yoga – yoga combines physical postures (asanas) with controlled breathing techniques aimed at improving flexibility while reducing stress levels. 
  • Meditation – meditation involves sitting quietly while focusing attention inwardly toward the breath cycle until thoughts become less frequent then disappearing altogether so speak with your doctor before starting any new treatment plan involving meditation.

Avoid getting stressed out and stay positive:

Stress can make you feel more tired, anxious and depressed. It can also cause pain, slow down your recovery and make it harder to sleep.

To avoid getting stressed out, take some time out of your day to do something fun. Go for a walk in the park with friends or family members – even if it’s just around the block – or go shopping with them at their favorite store! You’ll be glad that you did because when people are happy they tend not to get sick very often!

Be prepared for side effects:

When you have myeloma, you can experience a range of side effects. Some are mild and others are more severe. Some side effects are short-lived while others may last longer.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue (feeling tired) – this is one of the most common symptoms in people with myeloma and can be caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other treatments for the disease. Due to lack of physical activity, many patients with myeloma tend to gain weight which is highly dangerous. So if you or any person you know who’s suffering from myeloma and is also gaining weight then he should definitely get a weight loss plan as soon as possible.
  • Pain – some people experience pain when their bones become weak because of osteoporosis (a condition where bone density decreases). Other causes include nerve damage from surgery or fractures from falling due to weakness in muscles that support your balance

Early on, a myeloma diagnosis may be overwhelming:

Depending on the stage of your myeloma, it may be overwhelming. The diagnosis can be scary, confusing and sad. It might even come as a shock. Or maybe you feel relieved and in control now that you know what’s going on with your health. Regardless of how you feel at this moment in time, there will likely come a time when managing your symptoms gets overwhelming again–and that’s OK!

Talk to your doctor about symptom management:

If you have myeloma, it’s important to know what symptoms are common and how they can be managed. Your doctor will be able to tell you which side effects are likely and how they might affect your life.

  • Find out what symptoms are common: Ask your doctor if there are any symptoms that other patients have experienced during their treatment. You may also want to ask about complementary therapies or clinical trials that could help manage certain side effects.
  • Ask about exercise options: Physical activity helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves sleep quality, boosts energy levels (which is especially important for people undergoing chemotherapy), improves muscle strength and mobility–all things that can help with recovery from surgery or treatments like stem cell transplantation.

Different types of myeloma treatments available:

Myeloma treatments can be classified by the type of medication used. These include:

  • Chemotherapy, which targets cancer cells in the body and kills them.
  • Immunotherapy, which helps your immune system fight cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Some types of myeloma require radiation treatment alone or in combination with other types of treatment for successful outcomes; others do not require radiation at all due to their unique characteristics (for example, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or smoldering multiple myeloma).

Explore exercise options that are safe:

Exercise is an important part of managing myeloma. It can help you feel better and improve your quality of life, as well as help manage other symptoms like fatigue, anemia and bone loss.

Exercise has been shown to:

  • Reduce stress levels
  • Improve mood
  • Boost the immune system by increasing the production of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell) that fight infection

Find out what causes your symptoms:

  • Ask your doctor to explain what is happening.
  • Talk to other people who have been through the same experience. If you can’t find someone in person, try online forums or chat rooms, where you can post questions and get answers from people who are going through similar things at the same time as you.
  • Read about what is happening to you: there’s a lot of information out there on Myeloma (and other diseases) so look for articles or books written by experts in the field that can help put your symptoms into context.
  • Keep a symptom diary as this will help identify patterns among your symptoms so they can be managed more effectively by healthcare professionals.


Myeloma is a complex disease and there are many things you can do to help manage the symptoms. The most important thing is to stay in touch with your doctor, get enough rest and exercise, eat healthy foods and keep up with other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It’s also important that you have an open mind when trying new things like complementary therapies or alternative medicine because these may help relieve some of your symptoms!

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