As a hematologic cancer, multiple myeloma grows in your blood with the quick reproduction of damaged blood plasma cells. The cancerous cells crowd out healthy cells and hinder your bones and immune system.
There are several types of cells in the human blood system, and they are required so that the immune system can safeguard the body against infection. Blood plasma cells are a kind of white blood cells that are produced in the soft, spongy bone marrow in the center of your bones, and they create the antibodies that aid your body in detecting and attacking or killing germs.
What Is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is pronounced “pal-lee-uh-tiv” and is special medical attention if you have a serious illness like multiple myeloma. The goal is to provide pain, stress and other symptom relief and to improve your and your family’s quality of life.
A team of specialists, including doctors, nurses and social workers, work with your other doctors to deliver an extra level of support. Palliative care is appropriate no matter your age and during any stage of the illness. It could also be provided in conjunction with your curative treatment.
How Palliative Care Works With Treating Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
Multiple myeloma cannot be cured, but you could live for years with good care. However, the symptoms start building over time, including anemia, bone fractures, bone pain and fatigue. Palliative care can make a significant difference.
To strengthen your bones if you have arthritis, bisphosphonates could be prescribed. You may also take steroids to reduce inflammation and pressure in your bones as well as thalidomide to strengthen your immune system.
However, treatment for multiple myeloma typically includes chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells. While on chemotherapy, your normal blood cells could be damaged, and you could experience further side effects such as anxiety, bleeding, depression, hair loss, infection, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, shingles and urinary tract infections.
Your Palliative Care Team
Specialists who provide palliative care know how to treat multiple myeloma symptoms and the side effects of chemotherapy. They can help you understand medical details and choose treatments that meet your personal goals and needs.
Your team of specialists will be a sounding board and your first defense against anxiety, depression, discomfort and pain. They can help you and your family make both small and big decisions as well as improve communication between you, family members and other doctors. They are also there to clarify what you want to achieve with palliative care.
It is possible for a long-term relationship to grow between you, your family and your palliative care team because multiple myeloma is a long-term disease. You can look to this team for guidance on any important decisions and tough questions that arise. Palliative care remains with you through each step of your disease, no matter the path that it takes.
Seeking Palliative Care
Ask your physician about a referral for palliative care if you or a family member is diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The sooner that you seek a team of specialists, the better. Although it is difficult to live with multiple myeloma, palliative care can ease the burden and improve your quality of life. Contact Harbor Light Hospice for more information on how we can assist you and your family during this difficult time.