Face the Fear and Find Support

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David Zuniga, PhD, MDiv
When someone's multiple myeloma recurs, my advice is, get as much help as you can. And getting help isn't a sign of weakness. It's actually a sign of strength. It takes courage and strength to ask for help. It can come in many ways: It can be a friend or family member, a spiritual teacher, a psychologist, a book you read that is profound to you. Art is also healing. But get yourself support.

We all need support. Your vulnerability and your sharing of that vulnerability is a gift, and it's a gift that can make you stronger and them stronger, and all of you closer in the process. So the biggest thing is to be honest about your emotions as much as possible, and to reach out for support. Because there are people who want to support you.

Some patients, understandably, maybe they have a lot of other stressors in their lives. Maybe they're dealing with many, many things. Maybe they haven't gotten the support we would hope that a multiple myeloma patient would have. Maybe they haven't been in the psychological space to prepare themselves, which is completely understandable. And this can be where a psychologist or a professional therapist is helpful, is what are your thought patterns?

What are your emotional patterns? Also, give yourself things that are nurturing for your beliefs and your emotions, that help you cultivate the philosophy and beliefs that you want to have. And then give yourself rituals. Give yourself mind-body practices that make those beliefs a lived, experiential reality. Contemplative prayer, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, art. Give yourself the gift of practices that make your beliefs real and embodied in your life.

Also, I think we all need a community. Again, communities don't have to be mutually exclusive. It could be a support group, a therapy group, an art history group, a walking group, a yoga group, a contemplative prayer group.

Fear is completely normal with multiple myeloma. In a sense, how could you not be afraid? Because you know from the get-go that it will come back. No matter what you do, it will come back, and so that's terrifying. It's completely normal. Don't feel that you're strange if you're afraid. You're actually quite normal, and that's a healthy response. It's a normal, natural response to feel fear.