Caring for Someone With Multiple Myeloma

Caring for Someone With Multiple Myeloma

One of the hardest things about caregiving is recognizing change. As multiple myeloma changes over time, so may the needs of the person you’re caring for.

It’s common for your loved one with multiple myeloma to go through emotional and physical ups and downs. Learning more about it can help you recognize the changes as they occur:

Multiple myeloma is progressive, which means it worsens over time

People living with the disease may have times when they feel better and times when symptoms return

When symptoms worsen, the doctor may change the person’s treatment

The time between receiving medicine, response, and relapse—as well as the number of cycles—can vary from person to person

Adapting to changing care needs

As the symptoms and needs of your loved one 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 multiple myeloma may be:

  • Understand how the disease can impact the person with multiple myeloma physically. Below are the most common medical issues and treatments. If the person you’re caring for experiences any of these symptoms, contact his or her healthcare team

Common Issues

Too much calcium in the body (hypercalcemia)

Cause

Breakdown of bone

Symptoms

  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Common Issues

Kidney disease (renal failure)

Cause

Too much calcium and/or too much protein in the blood

Symptoms

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Common Issues

Anemia

Cause

Low number of red blood cells

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Common Issues

Bone damage

Cause

Myeloma cells crowd out normal bone cells

Symptoms

  • Fractures
  • Bone pain

Common Issues

Weakened immune system

Cause

Lower than normal ability to fight infection

Symptoms

  • Frequent infections
  • Delayed recovery from infections

Common Issues

Peripheral neuropathy

Cause

Certain multiple myeloma medications, too much abnormal protein in the blood

Symptoms

  • Tingling or pricking sensations (called paresthesias)

  • Keep track of all medications. Treatments can also cause changes to the person’s health
  • Keep an open dialogue. Try to keep a tone that encourages your loved one to talk 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
  • Talk with the person’s healthcare team about the options available at each stage of disease. Work together with doctors and nurses to stay informed about your loved one’s care plan
  • Help the person with multiple myeloma stay as healthy as possible. It’s important for your loved one to eat well, rest, and limit contact with people who are sick

 

Learn more about caring for yourself during this time

Help for Cancer Caregivers >

American Cancer Society Caregivers >

National Cancer Institute Resources page >

Information about these independent organizations is provided as an additional resource for obtaining information related to multiple myeloma. It does not indicate endorsement by Celgene Corporation of an organization or its communications.

Your healthcare team is your best source of information.

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