Lifestyle Adjustments for People Living With Multiple Myeloma

A doctor talking to a woman by the window in a clinic

• Eating lean protein and high-fiber foods and avoiding processed foods, fat, and sugar can help manage symptoms of multiple myeloma. 

• Regular exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi can help reduce fatigue, strengthen bones, and improve immunity. 

• Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help manage stress and reduce pain. 

• Online resources, support groups, counseling or therapy, and research participation are great ways to find meaningful connections during this difficult time. 

A multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects the bone marrow. According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates, an estimated 35,730 cases of multiple myeloma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2023, 12,590 of which are expected to result in death.

Although there is no known cure for this condition, lifestyle adjustments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Here are some lifestyle adjustments that may be beneficial if you are living with multiple myeloma:

Dietary Considerations

When living with multiple myeloma, it’s important to ensure you eat nutritious meals that provide your body with the right amount of energy and nutrients. You may experience nausea or loss of appetite due to treatment, so you may need to adjust your diet accordingly. Here’s a guide on how to eat well when living with multiple myeloma:

Eat Plenty of Lean Protein

Lean protein helps build and repair tissue, making it essential for people with multiple myeloma. This is because you are more susceptible to muscle loss and other health complications caused by the disease. Good lean protein sources include poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes.

Avoid High-Fat Foods

High-fat foods such as fried foods, processed meats, and desserts should be avoided as much as possible. This is because foods high in fat can increase the risk of other health complications, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Include High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are important because they help reduce inflammation and regulate digestion. This is because inflammation can worsen the symptoms of multiple myeloma. Hence, it’s important to reduce it as much as possible.

Avoid Processed Food

Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible because they may contain additives and preservatives that can worsen the symptoms of multiple myeloma. In addition, processed foods are often high in sodium, which can cause water retention and other health complications such as kidney damage.

A woman saying no to junk food on the table

Physical Activity

Multiple myeloma affects the bone marrow, but it does not mean you should be inactive. There are still ways to get physical activity and exercise without putting too much strain on your body. Here are some that you can do:

Light Exercises

During treatment, it’s important to keep the body active. This can help reduce fatigue and other side effects of treatment. Light exercises such as walking, stretching, and low-impact aerobics can help keep the body moving without putting too much strain on it.

Relaxation Techniques

Giving your body time to rest and heal during treatment is important. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress and reduce fatigue. These techniques allow your body to rest and help you stay calm and focused.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a low-impact exercise that helps increase strength and balance. It does not involve lifting weights or high-intensity exercises, making it ideal for people with multiple myeloma. This exercise also helps reduce stress, fatigue, and pain caused by multiple myeloma.

Support Network

A strong support network means a lot when you’re going through a difficult time. This could mean finding meaningful ways to connect with people. Here are your options:

Online Resources & Support Groups

These resources are great for finding information and connecting with others who know what living with multiple myeloma is like. You can find online support groups, informative articles, and even connect with professionals specializing in the disease. It is also a great avenue if you can’t meet people in person.

Counseling or Therapy

Emotional support is also essential when dealing with a chronic illness such as multiple myeloma. Talking to a professional about your feelings can help you learn how to cope with this disease’s changes and challenges.

Participating in Research

One of the ways to find meaning and purpose while living with multiple myeloma is to participate in research. Being a research participant for multiple myeloma allows you to help advance treatments and find a cure. It also allows you to learn more about your condition and help others who are going through similar experiences.

Family and Friends

A sister hugging her sister with cancer, being supportive

Of course, your family and friends are also an important part of your support system. Connecting with them regularly, whether through video calls or other forms of communication, can help you stay connected during difficult times.

Living with multiple myeloma can be a challenging experience, but with these lifestyle adjustments, you can remain hopeful and manage your symptoms. It is important to remember that each person’s experience with this condition is unique, so it is best to consult a doctor for personalized advice on coping. With the right support and resources, those living with multiple myeloma can find ways to improve their quality of life.

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