Mesothelioma is rare cancer that develops in the lining that covers your chest, abdomen, or lungs. Although its exact cause is unknown, medical experts widely link asbestos exposure to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma. Currently, no cure is available, but treatments can improve prognosis and help patients live out their years more comfortably.
Cancer diagnoses are terrifying and may cause feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and sadness. Since everyone experiences symptoms and treatment side-effects differently, you may find it challenging to cope with them. However, it’s essential to recognize and address these emotions instead of brushing them off. When left ignored, these feelings will grow into overpowering proportions and consume your entire well-being. Besides deteriorating your physical health further, it will also impact your mental health and make survival much more difficult.
On the bright side, practicing specific coping strategies can help readjust mesothelioma-related stress and allow you to deal with the disease better. Here we summarize a few tips drawn from patients’ experiences over several years to help you cope with your treatment and diagnosis.
- Understand your diagnosis and treatment
Understanding your diagnosis goes way beyond knowing you have mesothelioma. There are four types of this cancer, depending on where in the body it first develops. Your cancer may also vary based on cell types, affecting your overall diagnosis. Each form of mesothelioma cancer manifests symptoms differently, and it may take a long time until doctors can make an actual diagnosis. Various aspects like age, gender, ethnicity, asbestos exposure, and other environmental factors can also impact cancer diagnosis.
While hearing you have mesothelioma can get overwhelming, you must take the time to understand your physician’s findings properly before you start worrying. Additionally, modern medicine has given rise to several therapeutic approaches that can help manage mesothelioma symptoms. Sit with your doctor to learn why the chosen strategy is best for you and how it will best cater to your body’s needs.
- Acknowledge and express your emotions
Every individual experiences and expresses emotions in their way. While some prefer to talk about everything they’re worried about, others try to suppress their feelings or completely ignore them. Studies show that patients who openly communicate their emotions or concerns are better able to adjust to an illness psychologically than those who remain tight-lipped. Expressing your emotions provides an outlet to voice your feelings of anxiety or worries and allow others to validate them.
It’s common for cancer patients to hide their feelings from their loved ones to save them from pain or getting upset. However, when you discuss your fears and emotions, you can better help each other cope and be supportive at a time when it’s needed the most.
- Look for resources
Dealing with mesothelioma can get quite challenging and tiresome. Besides the physical and mental toll it takes on patients, disease diagnosis and treatment can be very costly. Fortunately, there are several forms of resources available that can assist and help alleviate some of the burdens on you. Some organizations (particularly asbestos trust funds) provide mesothelioma patients aid with medical billing, reimbursement, and insurance coverages. If you can’t afford medications or routine testing, you can apply for financial assistance that can contribute to funding these.
You can also be entitled to mesothelioma compensations if you experienced asbestos exposure at your workplace or from unknowingly living in poor housing conditions. These companies are liable to pay monetary damages for covering your medical treatment and other related costs. Connect with an asbestos attorney to learn more.
- Reach out for support
No one can understand your feelings better than someone experiencing the same things. For cancer patients, various support groups exist across the country where people can help each other out and be there to listen to one another. While it may seem difficult to voice your concerns to a family member, you may find it easier to share them with someone from your support group.
These groups can also be an excellent source of information regarding the latest advancements in treatments and research, which can prove beneficial for your diagnosis. You can also avail resources like individual counseling, where a health professional can help you understand your feelings and provide the tools to manage your stress.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation
Practicing mindfulness can significantly reduce stress levels and allow you to cope better with your treatment. Mindfulness allows you to be consciously aware of everything around you to better understand and accept your circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t aim to block out unpleasant feelings but instead tries to create positive outcomes that promote physical and mental well-being.
Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions play an active role in helping cancer patients cope with their symptoms during and after treatment. Some ways you can practice mindfulness are by:
- taking a walk in the fresh air
- paying attention to your environment
- journaling your thoughts
All mesothelioma patients have varying experiences even with the same diagnosis, treatment plan, or prognosis. What you may find challenging might not be as tricky for another patient and vice versa. However, whatever coping strategy you implemented in dealing with other life encounters can be just as helpful in dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Sometimes, trying new approaches, such as those mentioned here, may be more beneficial to allow yourself to feel comfortable and stress-free. Remember, both physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Therefore, addressing your concerns and worries is just as important as taking care of your body.