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How Can Myeloma Patients Transform Worry and Anxiety Into Productivity?

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Published on February 9, 2018

Living with multiple myeloma is stressful for many reasons, but constant worry can wear down your mental, emotional and physical energy reserves. So how can myeloma patients and caregivers channel anxious energy into positive, productive activities? Tune in to learn ways to create better outcomes from stressful situations from survivor and patient advocate, Danny Parker, and care partner, Lori Puente.

The Living Well with Myeloma series is a Patient Empowerment Network Program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Takeda, Amgen and AbbVie for their support. 

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Transcript | How Can Myeloma Patients Transform Worry and Anxiety Into Productivity?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

One more thing for you, Danny, just meditations. So, you’re right, you referred to it, about sitting on a cushion. I have this image of going like that, and saying a word. And, actually, my son tried it for a while, because he deals with anxiety. So, there are people who can help you. I mean, that’s one strategy. Obviously, you’re a big proponent of it, is it something that people should look into? 

Danny Parker:   

You can look into it. I think I would encourage anyone who’s curious to try it. I just want to emphasize that it’s not the only way to do that. And, taking a walk is really a valuable—a really valuable thing. Because I’m a big believer in exercise, relative to coping with this disease. And, I think Robin and Laurie would both agree, that just getting outside and seeing the world’s a big, big deal. There are a lot of things to be concerned about, so—and also, pets, to have an animal that loves you unconditionally. You’re not communicating through normal voice or words, you’re communicating on some completely different level about appreciation. 

And, appreciation in life. And then, have activities. To have something that you do, that is going to bring you some comfort. And, it can be some physical activity, it could be walking, but it could be knitting. My wife’s a potter. Reading, having some things that you feel like are going to bring you some comfort, especially when you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety, associated with the whole slew of things that we deal with, as patients.

Andrew Schorr:

Right. So, Laurie, you put on the Internet, I think, your basket of worries?

Lori Puente:        

Yes.

Andrew Schorr:

So, is that like, taking everything, you’re worried about, and putting it over there? Describe that to us, and how you’ve done that.

Lori Puente:        

Actually, it takes worries, and puts them in as wishes. And, that’s what it really is. It isn’t about the worries, it’s about the wishes. So, my belief is, every negative thought, I can have a positive thought about that negative thought. It’s a choice that I can make. 

Andrew Schorr:

Give me an example. So, give us an example of a worry, and a wish.

Lori Puente:        

Well, like, let’s say you have some friend, who’s going through something difficult with their child. Maybe they’re getting into drugs, or whatever like that. And, they call you, and they’re really worried, and you’re a good friend, and you’re listening, and you’re trying to help them, and everything. I would actually go over, and get a piece of paper, and write down, “Little Johnny is gonna come to his senses, and he’s gonna stop doing this, and everything’s gonna be fine.” And, I would put it in my basket of wishes. From the worry. And so, what I tell people, when they’re worried about what their next test is going to do, right? Because we’re talking about living with myeloma, right? We’re living longer and longer and longer. So how do you live with cancer?

Right, and you know it’s there, so I—sometimes, I think I wrote something else once, called “Living in Six-Month Increments.” Like, you live for six months, because next, you’re gonna have these tests, right? You worry, you worry. So, I would sit down with my husband, and I would say, so, what do you want this outcome in your tests? And, he’d say, well, I want everything to be fine. I don’t have any myeloma. I said, okay, well, let’s write that down, you know. And then, when we would worry about it, I would say, now, what did we say we wanted? Oh, yeah, that’s right. And then, we would just stop worrying. So, it’s just—it’s a silly little thing you can do, but it’s amazing that I put them in for other people, in addition to myself, and my life.

And, every once in a while, I pull them out, and I look at them, and I go, oh my gosh, that came true, and that came true. And, it just goes to show you what worrying about things can—it doesn’t come out, necessarily, what you’re worried about. And, just another quick thing is, I met, years ago, when we first got on this, I met a 17-year survivor, which was shocking to me. I knew they were out there, but I had never met one before, in person. And, I said to someone later, I said, imagine if he worried about myeloma for 17 years.

That’s a lifetime for some people. Like, wow. Like, don’t do it! Like Danny says, just take what comes.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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