Living with myeloma
Coping with myeloma is physically and emotionally demanding. But many people are now living longer and better lives with treatment. There may be long periods when the cancer is under control and you are living your day-to-day life. There are things you can do to look after yourself.
Rest is important as you use up a lot more energy when you are coping with symptoms or recovering from treatments. Here are some tips to help you get enough rest:
- Get a good night’s sleep – we have more information about sleeping problems and tips to improve your sleep.
- Ask family and friends to help out with chores such as household tasks and shopping.
- Save energy for the things you want to do and pace yourself. If you have a busy day, try to rest the following day.
We have more information on coping with tiredness.
Keeping physically active can help you during and after treatment. Ask your cancer specialist, nurse or GP for advice about the amount and type of physical activity that is right for you.
If you can, take regular short walks. This improves your energy levels and helps you feel better. It can also strengthen your bones and muscles.
It may improve symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Try to walk for a little longer and further each day.
People with myeloma are more at risk of having problems with their kidneys. Drinking plenty of fluids can help your kidneys to stay healthy. Try to drink around 3 litres (5 pints) each day.
If you are on dialysis, your doctor will advise you on how much you should drink. You will need to drink less because your kidneys are not able to get rid of the fluid.
You may find that you get more infections because you have myeloma. You can speak to your doctor about vaccinations that may help, such as the flu vaccination.
Some people with myeloma have medicines to boost their immune system or prevent infection. You can talk to your doctor about whether this is right for you.
Eating healthily improves your general health. It can also help you feel better and have more energy. We have more information on eating healthily.
Some people with myeloma struggle with their appetite and may lose weight. Try to keep eating well by having regular snacks. There are different supplement drinks to help make sure you get enough calories and nutrients.
If you are taking steroids as part of your treatment, you may find you put on weight.
Ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a dietitian if you need more advice.
Myeloma affects people in different ways. You may not feel as fit as you used to before treatment. You may also find you cannot do all the things you once took for granted. It can take some time to get back into a routine.
Different people are available to help. These include:
- occupational therapists
- social workers
- district nurses
- palliative care nurses.
If myeloma means that you can’t move around easily, you may need specialist equipment or people to help you in your daily life. Organisations and schemes that can help include: