Because caring for someone can be challenging and unpredictable — affecting more than just the patient — support is key to an effective treatment plan.
When you discover that a friend or loved one has developed multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, you may feel shocked, angry, and uncertain of what the future may hold. You may even feel like you should “put on a face” or mask your feelings. But, according to “Living Well With Myeloma Your Essential Guide,” keeping an open line of communication benefits both you the carer and the patient.
“Don’t feel that you have to talk about everything immediately and remember that often listening is as important as talking. Taking time to really listen to someone, without feeling you have to find solutions to any problems or worries can be very valuable,” the manual advises.
Here are some common thoughts that may be getting in the way of communicating correctly and how to deal with them.
“I don’t know what to say.”
Know that there’s no right or wrong thing to say. Nor does anyone have all the answers. Often, listening to someone talk about their concerns can bring relief. Simply letting the patient know you care enough to listen is crucial.
“I don’t want to open the floodgates.”
Avoidance is not the answer. A patient may just need the opportunity to let go of anger. Being there with a caring approach will help.
“I hate it when he/she goes all quiet.”
It may be tempting to fill silence with empty chatter, but don’t. Give each other space and time to think. Not all communication is verbal; sometimes it is physical. A hug or simply placing your hand on someone can say a million words. Meanwhile, if you believe someone is quiet because they’re upset you can gently ask them questions. For example, “What are you thinking about?”