Managing Your Emotions During Multiple Myeloma Remission

The knowledge that a relapse is likely can make coping a challenge.

Multiple myeloma is a treatable disease, but not, at this point, a curable one. Even entry into remission doesn’t signal the end of worries and concerns for people living with multiple myeloma—since moving from remission to relapse and then back again is the expected routine. Pressure can continue to mount for patients during remission. And this fear and anxiety around the possibility of a relapse can have a sizable impact on your emotional and psychological health. 

Here are some strategies that can help you cope and maintain your emotional well-being, even through anxiety during remission and potential relapses. 

Acknowledge the transition from cancer care to remission 
After your diagnosis, you were likely surrounded by people eager to help. Your friends, family and coworkers reached out with messages of support. Your calendar filled up with medical appointments and scheduled treatments. Cancer treatment is not easy, but it’s often very busy. Consider multiple myeloma remission your “new normal” and give yourself time to adjust. 

The National Cancer Institute points out that “one of the hardest things after treatment is not knowing what happens next. . . . It's not so much ‘getting back to normal’ as it is finding out what's normal for you now.” Be patient with yourself as you adjust to living with multiple myeloma—from days jam-packed with health-related appointments, to potentially returning back to work and creating a new day-to-day routine. 

Accept support 
Isolating yourself—or hiding the emotional stress and strain of a multiple myeloma relapse—is not a good idea. Fortunately, many people and organizations are available to offer help and support: 

  • Family and friends: Reach out to the people you know, so that you are not journeying alone. 
  • Religious or spiritual organizations: For many, religion is a comfort during times of stress, fear and anxiety. 
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers: These trained therapists can help you understand and cope with your complicated feelings. 
  • Support groups: Available both in person and online, people in these groups can be a source of practical knowledge along with empathy. 

Embrace lifestyle changes 
Making it to remission is an accomplishment—your body has done an amazing thing. That means quitting smoking (if you haven’t already), as well as eating healthy and exercising regularly. 

Exercise can be particularly important. Not only is it known to reduce stress and help ward off mild depression, but exercise can counteract the fatigue that often sets in during treatment. It can also help you regain bone and muscle strength, which may be diminished thanks to the cancer and its treatment. Before starting any exercise regimen—particularly if it’s been awhile since you worked out—speak to your healthcare provider (HCP). 

Try relaxation techniques 
There’s nothing helpful or beneficial to your health about feeling stress and anxiety. If you feel overcome with these emotions, consider trying relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation. 

You may be able to connect with programs where you were treated that will show you how to use these techniques. Or, try reaching out to your local yoga studio or meditation center. 

Medically reviewed in January 2021. Updated in February 2021.

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