Caring for a person with multiple myeloma

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It must be remembered that the patient is facing a 'personal journey' in the acceptance of his disease and the elaboration of what this entails, both in terms of life perspectives and the need to undergo therapies that can change normal habits, both personal and work.

This path can sometimes present issues which are difficult to manage even for those who take care of the sick. It is known from experience that each patient is placed in front of a disease in a totally unique way and takes into account a variety of factors: his own experience, the presence or absence of important personal suffering, social, economic, business concerns. In the face of all this, each patient reacts to a diagnosis in an absolutely personal way and which is not always easy to understand what mechanisms are established in the minds of those battling cancer. It is essential for anyone supporting a sick person to be able to understand the path that is emerging. For this reason, quality of communication is a fundamental step in order to begin your journey on the right foot. The condition may have a destabilizing effect on the patient and may reveal unknown aspects of the patient's character. This may also prove difficult for those supporting the patient. Therefore, listening to the patient and his needs, his fears and expectations is the first step. Understanding what the patient needs is the most important issue and the springboard to a shared location.

Please find some practical tips:

  1. Be a good listener. Focus your attention on the other person and maintain good eye contact
    Pay attention to his personal needs and the quality of support that the patient needs
    Repeat, reformulating their own words, the requests that they made, to reassure them that you understand.

  2. Use phrases in first person. The use of phrases in the first person allows you to express your thoughts and emotions and above all brings the patient closer in relation to the other, reducing the sense of loneliness often faced by patient.
    For example, instead of using a phrase like "There is no reason to talk with me" say something like "I feel very sad when I talk like that"

  3. Use concrete examples, avoid using general assertions concerning the behavior of the other person.
    For example, instead of using a phrase such as "You're always trying to do everything " choose a phrase like "I am concerned that you try to do all the housework alone, you should rest and I can give you a hand with the housework".

  4. Add a touch of humor. The humor can be good medicine. Be sensitive when the patient feels the need to express pain, but at the same time be prepared to laugh and smile with him.

  5. Respect the need to be alone. Sometimes a patient will say he wants to be alone so as not to cause worry, but other times he will really want to be alone. Manage visitors. Does the patient feel he is obliged to entertain guests, but does not want to offend them and ask them to go? If so, tactfully point out when the patient looks tired and thank them for the visit.

Offer to appropriate support

  1. Offer comfort and encouragement. Recognizing their efforts and what the other person is doing to feel better.
  2. Ask what they need and what you can do to help. You will get very different answers from those imagined!
  3. Offer practical support:
    For example, offer to accompany the other person to medical examinations respecting the decision of the patient if he prefers to go there alone.
    Take note of the recommendation and advice given by the physician.
    Help to keep medical documents in order (reports, prescriptions, etc.).
    In case of treatment, help to follow the correct therapy recommendations.
    Always instill confidence and hope trying not to show anxiety and worry.
    Assess the patient as well as the information provided by the physician regarding the status of the disease and encourage the patient to ask anything perceived as a need for clarification.

Offering practical help to a cancer patient is therefore a very articulated path and sometimes tiring, that requires special attention and an extremely high level of self control. The patient's oncology balance is often disturbed by negative emotional disruptive factors that can bring down all of the progress achieved in a single instant. Never lose your trust and hope and be able to fit into this balance, although sometimes precarious, it is definitely difficult but achievable.

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