Fatigue & Multiple Myeloma


It is absolutely no fun to be tired and fatigued. Multiple myeloma comes with fatigue that is different from the tiredness you may have felt before. This is a bone-deep exhaustion that does not get better with rest. There are several things you can do to get the rest you need and boost your energy. You must first figure out your fatigue. Keeping a journal of all the times you feel run down is the first step. This information can help your health team to figure out the best way to help you feel better. Some things to keep track of are the times of the day when you feel the most tired, when you feel stressed or depressed, how well you’re sleeping, and changes in your diet and in your daily activity level. You should expect fatigue as a part of cancer treatment, but it’s still important to talk with you doctor about how you’re feeling to find ways to get more energy. Relay this information to family and friends as well as they can help. Perhaps by helping with chores or by letting others know when you are tired, it will help. Joining a support group might also be helpful.

The cancer cells begin to build up in your bone marrow and to crowd out the healthy blood cells and then you become anemic. You then have fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body and this makes you tired. Changes to your diet might be needed and you may need adding supplement like iron or magnesium. Try eating more organic red meat even though you hear its not good for you. Red meat has been known to help raise hemoglobin faster than anything else other than a blood transfusion.

If you use mild exercise it can strengthen your muscles and boost your energy levels. Start slowly with a low-key activity if you haven’t exercised before your diagnosis. Low key walking with friends and family will make it more fun, but check with your doctor about the types of activity that he/she feels is ok for you. Eating right with a well-balanced diet is key for keeping your energy levels up.

Eating a few small meals throughout the day is preferred to eating 3 big ones. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and water. Supplements may be needed. Be sure to avoid sugary snacks, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco.

Your body’s supply of white blood cells that protect you from infection can be low with multiple myeloma. Avoid those who are sick and other things that might put you at risk.

Have other family members help you with chores, grocery shopping or cleaning if fatigue makes it hard to do these things. Share your concerns about fatigue with your boss in changing or shortening your work hours. Just remember that your health is your number 1 priority for now.

The biggest thing you can do is rest, rest and more rest. The anxiety about cancer, pain in your bones and nausea can keep you from sleeping well. Ask your doctor about treatments that might help and take time each day to rest when you feel tired. Again, focus on yourself.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems or are on dialysis, if you or your partner are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Your doctor also needs to know about all the medications, prescribed and over-the-counter, that you are taking as well as any nutritional supplements. Keeping your health provider well informed is the first step to helping with your side effects and dealing with your fatigue.

Be good to your body.

Dr Fredda Branyon