Q. My sister has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and I'd like to share info and services that might be helpful to her. Could you please give me recommendations?

A.

Learning about a new diagnosis can be extremely difficult and overwhelming both for the patient as well as loved ones. Gathering information and resources is certainly an important step. Beginning to form a foundation of knowledge can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that begins in white blood cells called plasma cells. Over time these abnormal plasma cells may collect in the bone marrow and bones. While some individuals may not experience any symptoms, some common symptoms of multiple myeloma may include bone pain or broken bones, fatigue and infection. Doctors often do a bone marrow biopsy to determine the staging of the cancer which can range from smoldering (asymptomatic) to stage three. Learning the stage of the disease can help doctors determine the best treatment plan. It is important to ask questions and have open communication with your treatment team in order to better understand treatment choices, expected results and any possible side effects. More information can be found in our booklet, Communicating With Your Health Care Team.

Coping with a new diagnosis can also be emotionally challenging for both the patient and loved ones. CancerCare offers a number of free support services including individual counseling and telephone and online support groups for anyone that has been affected by cancer. For more information, you may speak with one of our oncology social workers by calling 1-800-813-HOPE (4673), or visit the multiple myeloma section of our website.

As cancer treatments may also impose financial burdens, many organizations also have financial assistance programs. CancerCare’s Door to Door Program offers a reimbursement grant to help cover travel-related expenses. The following organizations also offer co-payment assistance: Chronic Disease Fund, Patient Advocate Foundation and Patient Access Network. Funding may change, so please check each organization’s website for up-to-date financial assistance information.

You may also be interested in registering for our upcoming CancerCare Connect Education Workshop: Progress in the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma.

Additional resources include International Myeloma Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.