Q. My father has multiple myeloma and it is disheartening to see to him lose weight. He is 74 years old and I wish I could do much more for his pain. Can you recommend nutritional and pain resources?
Caring for a loved one with cancer can be difficult. It is admirable and not uncommon to want to ease your loved ones pain. As physical changes occur, it can be especially overwhelming and may bring up feelings of helplessness. Reaching out and gathering information as you have done is an important and helpful step.
Many patients do experience changes in weight, including weight loss. These changes are common and can be caused by a number of factors including poor appetite, fatigue or treatment side effects. It is important to talk with your father’s medical team so that the weight loss may be evaluated. You can also request a referral to meet with a dietician who can work closely with your father to maintain a healthy weight. The following CancerCare fact sheets offer additional information on nutrition: Coping With Caner-Related Weight Changes and Muscle Loss and Tips for Managing Nausea and Increasing Appetite During Cancer Treatment. More information on locating an oncology dietician can be found at www.oncologynutrition.org.
Bone pain is another common side effect of multiple myeloma. Again, communicating with your father’s medical team will be an essential component to managing his pain. Remember, your father is the expert in what he is feeling; informing his doctors about the severity, location, and type of pain he is experiencing can help determine an appropriate approach to pain relief or reduction. Doctors may recommend managing bone pain by: wearing a brace, having radiation therapy or taking pain medications. If pain persists he may also consider consulting with a pain specialist. To locate a pain specialist, you may visit www.americanpainsociety.org.
More information on pain can be found in our publications, Controlling Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know to Get Relief and Opening the Door to Effective Pain Management: Getting the Facts and Getting Help. You may also be interested in registering for our upcoming CancerCare Connect Education Workshop™ featuring the topic, Managing Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know.