The Weight of Mental Health During Multiple Myeloma


As a part of its Speaking Out Video series, CURE® spoke with Kenny Capps, from Throwing Bones for a Cure, about the impact multiple myeloma has on a patient’s mental health and what they can do to help themselves.

Transcription: Colleen Moretti: How and why can a multiple myeloma diagnosis affect a patients mental health?

Kenny Capps: Speaking as a patient as well, as a patient advocate, I can say that there are multiple ways it can happen. It could be a chronic disease in larger specks, as opposed to a terminal disease — that's something that we have to deal with. It affects who you have been in the past, but also maybe who you think you can be the future. So that's pretty that's a lot to think about. It's heavy, it weighs. So it really is, I think, can beat you down.

Moretti: What can patients do to improve their mental health during a diagnosis? Why is it important?

Capps: There's, like a lot of things in life, there's not just one path to success and what success means is something different. So I think that's certainly one of the things could be physical activity and purposeful activity, something that could put you in a space to overall feeling physically better. It might actually put your mind in a state where it's feeling better, or at least able to see the problems objectively for what they are. And again, it's not magic, and it's certainly not simple science. There are so many things that can deeply impact somebody's mental health, coming from all the variables of life in front of them, not the least of which is cancer.

Moretti: Does Throwing Bones have any resources to offer patients who might be struggling with mental health?

Capps: Somewhat yes. What we have is something that where patients can at least step back and try to objectively look at where they are mentally right now — how much of this is weighing on them? Their initial diagnosis, how it impacts their overall the daily lives, their health and wellness, how it affects their relationships with families, and so forth. And so that they can maybe sit down and look at that objectively and determine where they need to focus their energies and then maybe the next step of talking to someone who can actually help them move past it somewhat.

Moretti: As someone who has gone through their own journey with multiple myeloma, what advice can you offer others who might be going through a multiple myeloma journey and are struggling with their mental health?

Capps: As I mentioned, with the different paths to success, I think the same thing is true here. But I also feel like that this is the type of thing that you can throw all of the tools that you possibly can, safely and I don't mean that you just start taking different types of psychotropic medications or anything like that. I think that maybe a big chunk of that is throwing all of the non-drug related opportunities that you can at this. I think that that's super important. So that means talking to other patients, peer groups, support groups is one. Seeing people who've actually gone through this struggle and you listen to them, right. Sorry, I have a dog who's squeaking this toy right now — and honestly, that might be a good indicator of something that helps me because I have a pet. And I have great relationship with my family, with my children and my dog. And there's certainly studies that have shown that that can be a big indicator of something that's positive and a success. And maybe that's one of the many tools that you throw at this is talking to someone and then also seeking professional help. And maybe I think the umbrella over all of those thing is don't forget that not everybody's successful ventures into mental health because reconstruction works for everybody else. Be open for the possibility that maybe what works for one person doesn't work for another. And so maybe pets aren't your thing, maybe they cause greater stress and you don't need it, because I certainly can understand that. But also maybe certain peer groups aren't for you. If you're in a peer group, talking about a dying so it's my loved one just died, there is that the end is coming near for all in that type of perspective and that's not the one for you, look at the opportunity and maybe move on to another one that is that looks at the positive aspects of the life, and how to overcome some of the challenges that you're having. Maybe that's the time for. So don't forget to look at those opportunities and be open to the fact that there is a solution you just gotta find it.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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