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a woman pulling back to the hospital curtain to see her roommate


So you’ve made your long trip for your weekly treatment. You’ve done what you needed to do to get there in the first place, but suddenly, you’re greeted with a roommate.

The influx of people being diagnosed with this horrid disease is growing, and it seems many facilities can’t keep up with the growing community of multiple myeloma patients. So, there can be shared treatment rooms and makeshift spaces to accommodate all of us. So, what’s the big deal?

Too close for comfort

Are you comfortable sharing your personal information with a roommate? There seems to have been a missed concern for many in this situation. Sometimes they’ve started using smaller chairs and tables to hold your arm. Sometimes you’re within earshot of other conversations. Well, it can all be a bit much to deal with when going through treatment.

There have been many cases where despite the hospital’s space situation, I’ve spoken up to get some privacy. Do you feel like your privacy is compromised? Are you okay speaking about your date of birth, or problems with treatment in front of a stranger? Well, I had a problem with it. There’s been a strong push for privacy due to HIPAA, but why hasn’t the sharing of treatment spaces been challenged? I’m sure many may not have thought much about the issue, but there are a great many who may find this to be a problem and annoying. Now, don’t get me wrong, some may feel comfortable with sharing their space, or may not have considered this to be a problem.

What’s the big deal?

Well, it’s kind of a big deal when you think about it, and here are a few reasons why:

Privacy considerations

Sensitive information is frequently being shared. Many nurses, lab workers, and administration team members start your time in treatment by making sure you’re really you. The infamous DOB (date of birth) comes up every time. What if you don’t want people to know your age or other information? Is it wrong to make this a big deal?

Risk of infection

What if you or your room buddy is having a hard time, maybe coughing due to being ill with a cold? Is it enough for you or them to wear a mask to make this okay?

IVs and other stressors

Prepping for an IV is a stressful time with just you and your nurse, but now you have this other being (possibly with their support team) looking at you getting plucked drawing a line.

Taking one WITH the whole team

Okay, so if you’re okay with another patient in your room, are you okay with the patient’s spouse, adult kids, and a neighbor? A support team is always welcomed, but not when it entrenches another patient’s privacy and comfort. Then that’s a problem.

Okay, now what?

If you find yourself in this bind, I suggest reaching out to your nurse to see if there’s another way to resolve this that makes you comfortable and keeps your privacy intact. It’s also suggested to reach out to a Patient Manager. And, you know those surveys you may have taken asking about how your visit was? Well, it actually works and they do call you if your visit flags any issues so don’t be afraid to speak up!

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • maddie50322
    1 week ago

    I have only luckily have had shared rooms once in all my many hospital days. It is more common in the north then in the south (as well as in countries with public healthcare) but I had my first experience with it this year. I even brought it up to nurses and they were like how do you even know this stuff. They make such a big ordeal about protecting HIPPA but then do things like double rooms and privacy is thrown out the door. Not only that you don’t know what germs your roommate could be carrying around and are colonized on them but foreign to your body. I have gone as far as saying I would like a private room and if you mention HIPPA they have to comply (even though they should already do that). The few hospitals in the south who still have double rooms are faxing them out.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator author
    5 days ago

    @maddie50322 Yes, speaking up if you’re uncomfortable with the arrangement is a positive step in a good direction. Look, in no way or form should any of us feel uncomfortable in a settling that most spend a few hours when it involves treatment, so if something seems off then speaking up is necessary. Best!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @yolandabrunson-sarrabo When Crystal first found out she had cancer she was still in Virginia. We went to see the oncologist there and saw their treatment room – and it was a room. All of the patients had their own chair and IV pole, but they shared the same room. Crystal really liked the idea of getting her treatments in this way. However, we ended up in NY at Sloan and they had very private rooms. Usually it was just Crystal and I unless someone else in the family went in my place. This turned out to be the better option because Crystal became very sick during and after each treatment. As much as she may have liked the comaradory, she wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the company.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Like you, I would have opted for privacy.

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @yolandabrunson-sarrabo I think I even wrote a piece here called “My Naked Roomate.” He definitely gave me a Silence of the Lambs vibe, like waking up to him sitting in a chair next to my bed, staring at me. Hospital roommates are such a roll of the dice. The best ones just pretend you aren’t there and don’t make any ruckus, the worst ones are the ones who have cookouts in the room with 30+ family members and blast music from their cell phone or take phone calls at 3am and get into a fight with someone in Albanian, aka, the ones I get. lol I feel your pain. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    @danielpmalito Ditto to everything you mentioned. The cookout ones are beyond annoying, most of the time we try and grin and bear it. Best!

  • VinnieCent moderator
    2 weeks ago

    That is so fascinating. I have never thought about this. But then again, I never had any siblings AND I was a teenager when I was diagnosed with Leukemia. It never occurred to me at the time how valuable that space was because i had just always had it. In fact, I was so used to having my own space that I would have probably argued that I wanted people in my space more often. However, now being an adult who has had roommates and housemates, I think I would have looked at it more in this light though. Very interesting!!! Thanks for sharing this @yolandabrunson-sarrabo. It really got me thinking.

    With much gratitude,

    -Vinnie ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    @vinniecent I’m glad this made you think in this light. Look, many people may not see this as an problem, but then there’s those who share my sentiment. I wanted to share a bit light on it. (LOL)

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