A varied diet and exercise can help you cope

Nutritious food and the right amount of exercise will help keep you in good shape both physically and mentally during cancer treatments. Taking care of your well-being can help you get through the planned treatments and the associated adverse effects.

The treatments given to myeloma patients may affect your mental and physical well-being. In order to better cope with the treatments, it is important to get a sufficient amount of sleep, eat well and stay in good physical condition. Try to live as normally as you can despite your illness.

Many myeloma patients experience tiredness, anxiety or depression. Daily routines can often seem unmanageable. Every person diagnosed with myeloma goes through these feelings in their own way. Sometimes doing the small everyday things that you love may help you feel better. Your attitude towards life is also something that you can influence.

Listen to your feelings and take time to rest in your everyday life. If you experience extreme tiredness or fatigue, be sure to talk openly about how you feel with your doctor or nurse. It is also important that you take care of your mental well-being during the treatments. Talk about how you are feeling with the healthcare professionals taking care of you and with your friends and relatives.

Good nutrition gives you energy for recovery

It is essential that you get enough energy during your cancer treatments. You will need more energy, proteins and nutrients than usual for tissue renewal and recovery. By eating enough food and enjoying a varied diet, you will feel better during the treatments.

Myeloma affects nutrition and eating in many ways. Your weight may easily drop if swallowing or ingesting food is painful or makes you nauseous. Cancer treatments may also change your sense of taste as well as causing dryness and pain in the mouth.

Some treatments such as corticosteroids may also increase your appetite, and with less exercise you may gain weight more easily than usual. Gaining a few kilograms is nothing to worry about, but more pronounced weight gain may make exercise harder and increase your blood sugar levels. You should aim for a stable weight.

Try to make your mealtimes enjoyable and something to look forward to. If you experience nausea, these tips may help:

  • Have several small meals at about 2–3-hour intervals. Large meals may make your stomach too full, causing nausea.
  • Eat when you have a good appetite even if that means changing your usual meal times.
  • Choose savoury and liquid foods such as soups, gruel, porridge and fruit kissel.
  • Try having cold snacks such as slices of fruit or cut meats instead of hot dishes.
  • Choose non-spicy, non-acidic foods that do not irritate your stomach or mouth.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well, small amounts at a time.
  • Air the dining area before eating. Fresh air can help you feel better.

If you have diarrhoea, drink plenty of liquid such as dilute fruit juice or tea to prevent dehydration. Products containing lactic acid bacteria may help with loose stools. Drinking enough liquid is also important in managing constipation. It is also a good idea to eat lots of fibre-rich foods such as vegetables and wholemeal bread and porridge.

Listen to yourself when exercising

Myeloma makes your bones release more calcium than usually. This often leads to impaired bone health, increasing the risk of fractures and skeletal pain. Regular exercise makes your bones and muscles stronger, boosts your self-confidence and helps you get through the treatments.

The right amount of exercise

  • slows down muscle and bone loss and makes your muscles and bones stronger
  • improves your functional capacity by improving balance and steadiness
  • improves your respiratory and cardiovascular health and physical well-being both in everyday life and during the treatments.

Exercise also has a significant positive effect on mood. Exercise may help take your mind off unpleasant thoughts and also gives social support if you do it together with someone else. Exercise improves quality of life by reducing the anxiety and tiredness associated with myeloma and its treatments.

Listen to yourself about how much to exercise. Myeloma and the cancer treatments strain your body, so avoid over-vigorous exercise. Suitable exercises may include slow or fast walking, swimming or gentle muscle exercise.