Healthy Living

Tips on How to Live with Multiple Myeloma

Tips on How to Live with Multiple Myeloma

Key Takeaways

  • Increased intake of iron, healthy diet to avoid kidney damage, eating spicy, cooked and high-fiber food are some ways of maintaining a proper diet during treatment.
  • It is possible to survive multiple myeloma with a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Understand your health entirely and maintain a positive attitude, appreciating what you have and taking care of yourself, as this will greatly affect the success of your treatment.

Multiple myeloma, a type of cancer, adversely affects plasma cells, which are your immune system’s components. The American Cancer Society indicates that in 2014, more than 24,000 people in the United States had multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma patients can lose their appetite due to the adverse effects of chemotherapy, and also from feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or fearful about the illness.

Nevertheless, a proper diet is important, particularly during the course of the treatment. Multiple myeloma can lead to kidney damage, low immunity and anemia.

Some simple tips for a proper diet

1. Increase Iron

Anemia (low red blood cell count) is a rampant issue in multiple myeloma patients. The cancerous plasma cells suppress and displace the red blood cells. Anemia causes various complications, such as fatigue, weakness and chills.

Another possible cause of anemia is low amounts of iron in the blood. Your physician may recommend you to eat more iron-containing food to help your body produce more healthy red blood cells and to relieve you from tiredness. 

You can get good iron from:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Lean red meat
  • Bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya, and guava)
  • Raisins

2. Healthy Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney diseases are sometimes caused by multiple myeloma. Apart from producing a protein that enters your bloodstream, the cancer can break down your bones since it suppresses healthy blood cells. Moreover, the plasma cells that contain cancer manufacture a protein that goes into your bloodstream.

Your kidneys can be damaged when they function beyond the normal limit as they process the excess protein and calcium in your body. A diet change, depending on how your kidneys function, may protect them.

You may be required to reduce your intakes of salt, alcohol, protein, and potassium. In serious kidney destruction, intakes of water and other fluids may be limited. In the case of high blood calcium levels, less calcium consumption may be needed. Consult your physician on any diet change due to kidney illness.

3. Avoid Raw Foods

While you’re receiving multiple myeloma treatments, your risk of infection increases because cancer and chemotherapy treatment weaken your immune system. You can avoid colds and other problems by washing your hands frequently and avoiding infected people. 

Avoiding raw foods also assists in lowering your infection risk. Even if your immune system is strong, you may get bacteria and fall sick after eating undercooked meat, sushi, and raw eggs. Avoid eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables when your immunity is low. You can avoid food-borne illnesses by cooking your food to the lowest recommended internal temperature to kill possibly-present bacteria.

4. Consume More Fiber

Some drugs used in chemotherapy can result in constipation. Diet tips for constipation treatment and prevention in the course of multiple myeloma treatments are quite easy to follow. Take a lot of fiber and drink lots of water.

High-fiber food comprises of:

  • Berries
  • Nuts, beans and lentils
  • Broccoli, carrots and artichokes
  • Whole grains, for example, oatmeal and brown rice
  • Dried fruits (raisins, figs, apricots, prunes)
  • Apples, pears, and oranges

5. Eat spicy food

Annals of Hematology’s journal study indicates that curcumin (turmeric spice compound), may lower chemotherapy drugs' resistance risk and reduce multiple myeloma cells.

Bland food may be a solution to most people who experience side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting, but if you can tolerate some spice in your food, then try a curry made with turmeric, mustard and some cheese types, which contain curcumin.

Don’t forget

You can survive multiple myeloma with a healthy diet. Regardless of whether you have problems like anemia and kidney disease, your body strength requires nutritious fuel. Substitute processed snacks and sweets with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

You can help your body recover by eating minerals besides receiving treatment and medication.

More Helpful Tips

  1. Keep in mind that the condition is not an indication of weakness or personal failure. Unlike most people who suffer from the disease, don’t put the blame on yourself for having the illness. Our society usually sees the chronic condition as a result of an individual failure of the person having the disease. You shouldn’t believe in this, but rather get facts so that you can have the correct understanding. 
  2. View the disease as a classroom from which you will learn something. Life is similar to a  classroom and health issues is a class in which you are purposely meant to be. The experience from the class can equip you with important knowledge in your life. Your experience in the class will depend on how you perceive the illness and its impact on your character development Suffering strengthens you and makes you better by building your personality and compassion. You will experience less suffering if you concentrate daily on what you are currently going through and could make your personality better or make you compassionate about other people. 
  3. You may need to change your job. In the course of treatment, multiple myeloma makes the body immune system weak. However, the situation is followed by a period of temporary recovery.  Therefore, change of career will be necessary. You may need to change your job if your workplace has a high presence of germs, for instance a school or a storage facility where many people visit daily. Besides, you need to have time to go to the hospital and to get various treatments. Also, you may often feel tired because your body fights the disease around the clock. You should consider all these points during treatment planning.
  4. Be your disease specialist. Although your doctor is knowledgeable, trained and experienced in treating your illnesses, it is vital to participate in controlling it actively. Furthermore, due to continuing trials to curb the condition, it is paramount to consult a multiple myeloma professional because the specialist is updated on the disease. The majority of doctors handle many patients, therefore, get to know each and every detail regarding your treatment.  Ensure that you make the appropriate inquiries, particularly if you have come across any new information about the condition. You should update yourself with relevant information and understand your health entirely. 
  5. Always remain positive. Having a positive attitude has a huge impact on the success of the treatment that you are receiving since it makes you cope up with challenges. Interact with your family members and enjoy every moment you have them around. Come up with ways that will help you develop a positive attitude and look for a person to share with whom you can share your experiences whenever you face challenges. Figuring out as well as acceptance of the condition and its impact on one’s life is usually a difficult aspect of every diagnosis of multiple myeloma. With proper preparation, you will live an independent life rather than allow the condition to determine how you will live. 
  6. Remember those people who have worse experiences than you. The comparison of your experiences with what other people are going through determines how your attitude changes. Whenever you compare yourself to those people having it better and thus feel bad, remember that person who is going through a situation worse than yours. Count whatever you have which others don’t have and be thankful. Appreciating what you have will make you maintain a positive perception. View whatever you are going through as a tool for making you a better person.
  7. Taking care of yourself should be your priority. Failure to take care of your health will prevent you from extending kindness to other people. Make it a daily routine to do whatever is required of you such as sleeping, performing exercises, eating a proper diet, avoiding straining, having massages, or napping, among others.