Getting a diagnosis like multiple myeloma can be overwhelming and send you down a hole of spiraling thoughts: What is multiple myeloma? How will my life be from here on out? Where do I go from here?
“It’s very important when you’re diagnosed with [multiple] myeloma to take certain steps,” says Adriana Rossi, MD, associate clinical director of the Myeloma Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
STEP #1: Find the right treatment center and the right doctor.
Choosing the right treatment center and team is critical to getting the best treatment possible. “Multiple myeloma is still considered a rare disease, so I think it’s important to at least seek an option at a center that sees a lot of myeloma patients,” says Dr. Rossi.
Ideally, a specialist who focuses on multiple myeloma will be aware of the latest research and treatment options.
STEP #2: Ask questions and make sure you understand your diagnosis.
It’s important that you understand your diagnosis completely. Ask questions, write down the answers, and repeat them back to your doctor. “I think as physicians we think we’ve done a good job of explaining, but until you really understand it, we haven’t done our job,” says Dr. Rossi. “So ask questions until it makes sense to you.”
Sample questions to ask your doctor include:
What kind of myeloma do I have?
What stage is the myeloma?
What symptoms can I expect?
What’s your recommended treatment plan and why?
What side effects can I expect?
STEP #3: Work with your doctor to find the right treatment plan.
It’s very important to have good communication with your doctor, especially during the first cycle of a treatment plan, says Dr. Rossi. “[If] a treatment either stops working or has side effects that the patient finds intolerable, that’s a reason for us to find a new line of therapy,” she says.
“If we don’t know [that] you’re having a symptom or you’re having a hard time with a medication, we can’t do anything about it,” says Dr. Rossi. “Often there are different options for treatment.”