BY YOLANDA BRUNSON-SARRABO Anyone dealing with any type of chronic condition can relate to the extraordinary amount of medication that is needed to sustain health. In the age of pill consumption to cure just about anything from mental health, diabetes, and cancer; it can be a bit disconcerting. We need these pills to help us live, but it can feel like we have take some pills to counteract the influence of others. As myeloma expert Dr. Robert Kyle of the Mayo Clinic says, "There are no drugs without side effects." How can we best understand and manage these side effects? When I started my journey with multiple myeloma, I was hesitant and overwhelmed with everything I was told. To ease my anxiety I did my homework just before treatment talks began. I knew the tribulations of Zometa, and the power of Krypolis. It's not easy, but if you’re open, are willing to do some research on the drugs, plus ask your oncologist the questions you need answered, you should be more comfortable with how to move forward. Everyone's amount of medication is different, depending on your myeloma treatment and pre-existing conditions. My 6 drugs may be 10 or 20 for someone else - it really just depends. One tip for knowing how to manage is simply to know what the side effect is so you aren't caught by surprise. Click here to see the side effects of the most common myeloma medications. Another is also to discuss the side effects with your doctor. Your healthcare team can adjust or lower the doses of the medications if they clearly understand the impact the drugs are having. If you don't tell them, they will never know! And there may be times when our body (or our brains) will need a break. How I Cope One of the biggest setbacks I’ve encountered has been severe sour stomach, acid reflex, and just unsettling in my stomach. Here are a few suggestions I've used when coping with my myeloma regimen: Water: It’s best to drink as much water (4-5 cups) as possible day the day before or on treatment to start the flushing process of these drugs. There may be times you can’t stomach the taste of water but try adding flavorful components to soften and add to the taste. My "go to" as I’ve written on my blog and Twitter has been rosemary stems and ginger. Rosemary can help relieve pain and helps with headache relief. Ginger can be used to decrease nausea. I also add in garlic and seep all in hot water for a strong dose to calm my inner gut. Ginger ale: Ginger has anti-nausea properties but canned ginger ale has little ginger and lots of sugar. Make homemade ginger ale by simmering fresh ginger root slices for 10-20 minutes. Drain the water into a container then mix with agave to make a syrup. Then mix this ginger/agave mixture in your preferred concentration with soda water. Diet: Pack your diet with rich nutrients, especially because you may or may not have an appetite the day of treatment. I love making soups like lentil and green or yellow split pea. They’re filling but don’t leave you feeling bloated. Also, I've found that dairy may irritate my gut during treatment. Rest: Try and get as much rest after treatment if you can. Your level of fatigue will obviously depend on your treatment and how it makes you feel. With my current treatment regimen, I’m usually up and about the next day ready for a fitness work out and a hearty appetite.
about the author
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of Myeloma Crowd by HealthTree and the HealthTree Foundation.