Tag Archive for: pre-existing condition

Collaborate | Being an Empowered Myeloma Patient

Collaborate | Being an Empowered Myeloma Patient from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

When facing a myeloma diagnosis, how can you actively engage in your care? This animated video shares tips and advice for becoming empowered in your care, including understanding and setting treatment goals and educating yourself about myeloma.

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Hi! I’m Bianca, and I’m a nurse specializing in myeloma. And this is Suzanne, who is living with myeloma.  

Together, we’re going to guide you through a series of videos to help you learn more about your myeloma and we’ll share tips to help you play an active role in your care and treatment decisions. 

Suzanne, I must say, you’re a great example of an empowered patient.  


Thank you, Bianca! It wasn’t always the case, but I’ve had some expert guidance from my healthcare team – including you!  

Bianca, what does it mean to be an empowered patient, exactly?  


We can start with the World Health Organization’s definition of patient empowerment, which is: “a process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health.” 


That sounds right to me—as I’ve become more engaged in my care, I’ve definitely felt more confident and in control of decisions.  But when I was first diagnosed with myeloma, I was overwhelmed…and so was my family. Once we took proactive steps to learn more about my diagnosis and find the right healthcare team, I was able to access better overall care and to feel confident about my role in decisions.  


Exactly, Suzanne. Let’s walk through some keys steps to becoming empowered, starting with diagnosis and education: 

  • When considering your care team, it’s a good idea to seek a second opinion with a myeloma specialist.  
  • A specialist can confirm your diagnosis, help you define your treatment goals, and provide peace of mind about your decisions.  
  • And, you should also educate yourself about your myeloma. If you’re watching this video on the Patient Empowerment Network website, you’ve already taken this step! 
  • In addition, there are a number of other advocacy groups specific to myeloma that provide a wealth of resources and support. You can ask your healthcare team for recommendations for learning about myeloma.  


That’s right, Bianca. And, it’s useful to access to your online patient portal, if available. You can use the portal to view medical records and test results and to communicate with your healthcare team.  

And as I’ve learned, it’s also important to actively participate in your care. This means speaking up and asking questions, which is not always easy. Bianca, what advice do you have for better communication with your healthcare team? 


  • First, always prepare for appointments by writing down a list of questions in advance. You can use the Notes app on your smart phone or download one of the Office Visit Planners on the Patient Empowerment Network website to help you organize your thoughts.   
  • And, try to bring a friend or loved one to appointments to help you remember information and to take notes. 
  • Finally, it’s essential to realize that your doctor wants to know how you are doing and is there to help you. If you are hesitant about a treatment option or a side effect is bothering you, let someone on your healthcare team know. You can even send a message through your patient portal. 


That’s great advice, Bianca! I like the convenience of communicating through the patient portal, particularly if questions come up after my office visit. Remember, you have a voice in your care decisions, so speak up and ask questions.   


That’s right! And, visit powerfulpatients.org/myeloma to view more videos with Suzanne and me.   

Thanks for joining us!  

Tools for Choosing Myeloma Therapy

Tools for Choosing Myeloma Therapy from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

When faced with choosing a myeloma treatment, what should be considered? This animated video reviews factors that impact treatment decisions, provides a list of questions to ask your healthcare team about therapy and advice for engaging in your myeloma care.

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Whether a patient is newly diagnosed with myeloma or is facing a relapse, choosing a treatment approach can feel overwhelming.   

Shared decision-making is a process where patients and healthcare providers communicate and collaborate to make care decisions. This approach encourages patients to take a more active role in their care and treatment and can help them feel more confident when choosing a therapy. 

So, what can impact myeloma treatment decisions? 

  • There are patient-related factors, such as a patient’s age, fitness level, and pre-existing conditions. 
  • And, disease-related factors, including the aggressiveness of the patient’s disease and its location in the body. 
  • And, treatment-related factors, such as past treatments a patient has received or if they are refractory to medicines. 

How can you play a role in making treatment decisions?  

You can start by making a list of questions in advance of your appointment. This can help you to organize your thoughts before you meet with your healthcare team.  

And, when working with your doctor to choose a treatment, consider asking the following questions: 

  • What type of myeloma do I have?  
  • Are there test results that may impact my treatment choices? 
  • What are the risks and benefits of each treatment option? 
  • What approach do you recommend and why?  
  • How is the treatment administered, and what side effects might I expect? 
  • What are my options if this treatment stops working? 
  • Are there newer treatment options available to me, including immunotherapy?  
  • And, is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?  

It’s also a good idea to bring a friend or loved one to your appointment for support to take notes and help you recall information. Afterwards, discuss the appointment together – you can use this time to talk about your care plan and do your own research to learn more about your options.   

The patient portal is another useful tool in your care. You can use it to view lab and test results. And you can use the messaging feature to communicate with your healthcare team when you have more urgent questions to address before your next visit. 

Now that you know more about how to make myeloma treatment decisions, how can you take action? 

  • First, consider a second opinion or a consult with a specialist. 
  • Then, ensure you have had all relevant myeloma testing. 
  • Next, understand and participate in treatment decisions. This includes learning about your options, so you can weigh the pros and cons of each approach. And be sure to speak up and share your personal preferences and goals with your care team. 
  • Communicate regularly with your healthcare team – don’t wait to share information only when you have an appointment.  
  • And finally, bring a friend or loved one to appointments and always write down any questions or concerns in advance. 

Visit powerfulpatients.org/myeloma to learn more about myeloma and access tools for self-advocacy. 

Expert Perspective: Why Myeloma Patients Should Weigh in on Their Care Decisions

Expert Perspective: Why Myeloma Patients Should Weigh in on Their Care Decisions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Myeloma specialist Dr. Abdullah Khan shares key advice encouraging patients to participate in care and treatment decisions and discusses the importance of communicating symptoms and side effects to your healthcare team.

Dr. Abdullah Khan is a hematologist specializing in multiple myeloma and plasma cell disorders at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Dr. Khan is also an assistant professor in the Division of Hematology at The Ohio State University. Learn more about Dr. Khan.

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Let’s turn to decision-making, Dr. Khan. What is the role of the myeloma patient when making care and treatment decisions?  

Dr. Khan:

As a provider, my role is to inform the patient of the facts and the need for a decision. The purpose of the discussions is to determine the patient’s goals and preferences, because it’s essential the patient’s values of respected. The best outcomes occur when the medical facts align with the patient’s preferences. And this is a multi-disciplinary team approach.  


Why is it so important for patients to share any symptoms and side effects they’re having with their healthcare team?   

Dr. Khan:

I read something recently on an NIH website titled “What Do I Need To Tell the Doctor?” that I think answers this question well. And I’m quoting the article. “Talking about your health means sharing information about how you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. Knowing how to describe your symptoms and bringing up other concerns will help you become a partner in your healthcare.”  

I think I really like that end, “partner in your healthcare.” The patient’s symptoms and suggest disease or disorder in the body. If there are concerns, this may prompt a clinic visit or the patient may be advised to go to the closest ER or urgent care depending on the urgency of the situation. But in other cases, the healthcare team may help provide reassurance that the symptom can be continued to be monitored more resolution, or it can be evaluated in more detail if it persists or worsens.  


What about side effects? Why is that important for patients to share any side effects they may be having?  

Dr. Khan:

Side effects may be a result of the disease itself. It might be a marker of the side effects from the treatment. Or I’m focused on the multiple myeloma, but there’s every other organ system in the body that also needs help. So, the myeloma might be doing okay. The treatment might be doing okay. But, for example, we might have a lung toxicity from their pre-existing COPD or a heart toxicity from their pre-existing coronary artery disease. So, it’s very important to share all symptoms So, we can see how to properly assess it.   


And better care for the patient.  

Dr. Khan: