gdc
Multiple Myeloma

Nurse Navigator Perspective: The Patient’s Role in Adhering to Oral Therapies

Instead of receiving cancer treatments in a hospital or outpatient setting, many patients are now being treated in the comfort of their own home with oral pills that they administer themselves.
Conquering The Multiple Myeloma Continuum Series One
Deborah Christensen, MSN, APRN, AOCNS, HNB-BC
Oncology Nurse Navigator
St. George, UT

Instead of receiving cancer treatments in a hospital or outpatient setting, many patients are now being treated in the comfort of their own home with oral pills that they administer themselves. Suddenly, a patient is responsible for the 5 "medication rights of administration" that nurses must follow:

  • The right medication
  • The right dose
  • The right route
  • The right time
  • The right patient.

The fifth right, making sure that a medication is given to the right person, may not seem like a problem in the home setting, but pills must be kept away from children, pets, and other adults who could mistakenly take them.

Along with these 5 rights, patients are also being asked to watch for, report, and address their medication’s side effects. Some cancer medicines have to be taken at specific time intervals, with or without food, or aside from other medications. These instructions can disrupt a person’s normal sleep habits and daily routine. The high cost of cancer medications is another concern for most patients, as are the safe handling and storage of the pills.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are suggestions for 3 of the most frequently asked questions about oral cancer treatments:

Q. What are some ways to help me take my medication exactly as it is prescribed?
Members of your healthcare team can help you develop simple strategies for getting used to taking a new medication. The "silly pat," patting your head or using another body gesture when taking your medication, has been shown to help people develop a new routine.

Chart your achievement on a calendar each time you take your medication as prescribed, and reward yourself with something nice at the end of a successful week. When you take your medication, send yourself a positive message by raising your water glass and toasting "to life."

Q. What financial resources can help with the cost of my cancer medication?
There are several financial resources for patients taking oral medications for multiple myeloma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Patient Access Network foundation, and Good Days have grants and copay assistance programs for qualifying patients. In addition, some drug companies have patient assistance programs for qualifying patients. Cancer centers often have staff dedicated to helping patients find national and local financial resources. Make sure to ask if assistance is available.

Q. What should I do if I experience side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, or a rash?
Preparing for side effects can help you keep your life as normal as possible. If your medicine causes diarrhea, be prepared with extra clothing or wear protective briefs. Work with your healthcare provider to find the right solutions for nausea. Use sunscreen when outdoors, and notify your cancer care provider of any itching or a rash. Cancer therapy does not need to equal suffering.

Following the 5 medication rights is vital. As discussed in the feature article, taking less or more of a medication can have serious consequences for patients with cancer. Fortunately, barriers to adherence can be overcome when patients, caregivers, and the healthcare team work together toward that common goal.

Share this:

Recommended For You
FDA Approvals, News & UpdatesMultiple Myeloma
Darzalex Faspro, Kyprolis, and Dexamethasone a New Combination Approved for Multiple Myeloma
In November 2021, the FDA approved the combination of subcutaneous Darzalex Faspro (daratumumab and hyaluronidase) plus Kyprolis (carfilzomib) and dexamethasone for adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received previous therapy.
Art TherapyMultiple Myeloma
Cancer Concerns Drift Away While I Focus on My Painting
By Eddie Sutherland
While painting this beautifully realistic rendition of a Clam Shack in Cape Cod, Eddie Sutherland was able to step back, focus on his art, and forget his cancer concerns for a while.
Multiple Myeloma
Navigating Treatment for Multiple Myeloma: Adherence Is Key
By Meg Barbor, MPH
A thorough overview of multiple myeloma, including an understanding of treatment options, the importance of patient and doctor communication, and an oncology navigator’s experience treating this form of blood cancer.
Multiple Myeloma
Getting the Most Out of Your Treatment: Your Role in Achieving Desired Outcomes in the Patient Journey
By Beth Faiman, PhD, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN, FAAN
Nurse practitioner Beth Faiman, PhD, MSN, an expert in multiple myeloma, briefly discusses the unique features of this uncurable but very treatable cancer, highlighting that getting what you want out of treatment requires arming yourself with knowledge about the disease, evaluating your treatment goals, familiarizing yourself with your treatment team, and becoming an active participant in your treatment.
Last modified: March 11, 2021

Subscribe to CONQUER: the patient voice magazine

Receive timely cancer news & updates, patient stories, and more.

Country
Gender
Race or Ethnicity
Profession or Role
Primary Interest