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Supporting Friends & Family During a Mesothelioma Diagnoses

Key takeaways: Supporting loved ones after they’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma can be done emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Navigating the challenges associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis—like treatment, changes in priorities or values, or the physical burden of mesothelioma—are best supported by the patient’s friends and family.

 

Mesothelioma & mental health

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal cancer. Usually, the prognosis—or projected outcome—of mesothelioma is anywhere from 4 to 18 months, depending on a.) the location of the tumors; b.) whether the tumors are responsive to treatment; and c.) when mesothelioma is diagnosed. Because mesothelioma presents like other diseases, it often gets misdiagnosed as a more common ailment; usually, it isn’t diagnosed until it progresses into a later stage, where its characteristic features are more prominent.

 

Oftentimes, mesothelioma patients experience a reduced quality of life, either as a side effect of treatment or accompanying the progression of the disease. With this usually comes a change in one’s mental health: patients might have different priorities, an altered set of values, a reckoning with changed mobility, pleasures, and challenges, and even a changed relationship with spirituality. Usually, a mesothelioma diagnosis is entirely life-changing for patients and their loved ones. Sometimes, loved ones—spouses, children, or friends—could become the patient’s caregiver, which carries its own set of challenges.

 

Support

One of the best ways to support a loved one with mesothelioma is to assess their needs. Oftentimes, the logistics of mesothelioma—treatment, side effects of treatment, dealing with the costs associated with transportation, medical bills, etc.—are most difficult to manage. Say, for instance, your good friend has mesothelioma. You notice their spouse—their primary caregiver—is overwhelmed after long days of treatment at the hospital, and struggles to find the energy to cook dinner. You might want to either a.) offer to cook at their house a few nights a week; or b.) make them food that they can easily heat up. It could be difficult for you to offer support in other ways, but you can make a definitive impact in the ways that you respond to your loved one’s (and their caregivers’) physical needs.

 

You can also take a more active role in your loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis. You could:

  • Offer to drive or accompany them to treatment
  • Research clinical trials for them to discuss with their doctor
  • Learn about the ways that mesothelioma manifests and grows (and how to mitigate or interrupt those processes)
  • Be a confidant/source of safety and non-judgment
  • Offer to be their caregiver once a week—this ensures their primary caregiver is well rested while also giving you the chance to help in a quantifiable way
  • Regularly communicate via text, phone call, or in-person check-in—showing up emotionally for your loved one is critical
  • Engage in activities that bring them joy
  • Set aside daily or weekly time to be with them in-person
  • Encourage them to enroll in a support group (or accompany them to the support group)
  • Take on household tasks like cleaning, laundry, paying the bills, or grocery shopping

 

Importantly, if you’re unsure how your loved one might need help, ask! Conversations about expectations—either with your loved one or their caregiver—can give insight as to how you can best meet their needs and show them your support.

 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you do not have to go through it alone. The dedicated team at the Halpern Law Firm can help you get compensation for your condition. Call us at (800) 505-6000 or fill out our contact form to get in touch with us today.

 

Sources:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-statistics.html

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mesothelioma/living-with/coping-mesothelioma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8188997/

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