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Important Tips for Mesothelioma Caregivers from the Meso Foundation

Mesothelioma is a disease that impacts not just the life of the person diagnosed, but their family and friends’ lives, as well. Mesothelioma caregivers turn into the fundamental source of support and comfort for the patient. However, being a mesothelioma caregiver can be challenging at times, too. These selfless individuals put their own needs behind those of their loved one to provide care – whether that care is physical or emotional or both.

caregiverIt’s important for mesothelioma caregivers to take care of themselves, too. After all, you can only help your loved one if you are first taking care of yourself. Simmons Hanly Conroy regularly works with mesothelioma caregivers to guide and support them through the legal process, and with help from the Meso Foundation, here are a few tips to remember during your challenging journey of helping someone diagnosed with mesothelioma:

Always communicate with your loved one’s doctors.

A mesothelioma diagnosis can mean that a patient is in the care of several doctors. This can make it difficult to maintain good communication among all parties and stay informed about every aspect of your loved one’s care. Another issue is patient confidentiality – a doctor may not be allowed to speak with you about your loved one unless your loved one is present. A signed consent form can help with this challenge, since it will give the doctor permission to talk to you about your loved one’s medical care and options at any time.

The Meso Foundation recommends that all caregivers keep a list of questions about medications, side effects, what the patient can eat or drink, and other medical questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor any questions you may have. If you don’t understand something the doctor has told you, follow up and ask them to explain further. It’s crucial that you have good communication with the doctors so that you can help your loved one with their physical care.

In addition, I recommend that caregivers keep a journal of all doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations and any changes in medications or health status. Keeping this journal will help you organize your thoughts and be better prepared during a doctor visit.

Take care of yourself.

The only way you can be a successful caregiver is if you are first taking care of your own needs. Caregiving is a challenging job that can often lead to stress, loneliness, guilt and frustration. If you are feeling this way, remember that it is not a sign of weakness. Seek support from friends, family and community groups like churches. Remember that it is acceptable to ask for help or to say no once in a while. Stay active with regular exercise and eat balanced meals. If you need to, seek spiritual support or spend some time doing activities that you enjoy, like journaling, reading, meditating, or being in nature. You don’t have to suffer through negative feelings or circumstances – improve your own well-being and you will also be helping your loved one with mesothelioma.

Take comfort in others like you.

There are thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma every year – that means there are also thousands of caregivers like you. Connecting with them is easier than you might think. The Meso Foundation offers a program called Meso-Connect, which helps identify and connect you with other members of the mesothelioma community. It’s an easy way to talk to others who have “been there, done that” and are going through the same challenges that you may be facing.

You can learn more about Meso Foundation’s Meso-Connect here.

Ask for help if you need to.

You are one person. You can’t do it all. It’s important to take some time for yourself now and then, and respite care can help you do just that. Respite care is short-term, temporary relief for those who are caring for family members who need professional aid. Basically, it’s a short break from caregiving without sacrificing the well-being of your loved one. A respite care provider can assist with your loved one’s needs for one to two hours per day, or however long you may need. Also, some churches and community groups will provide sitting services to members. This ensures you get the alone time you deserve and/or much needed rest, and your loved one still gets the support they may need.

The above are a few tips that a mesothelioma caregiver should consider as they face the daily challenges of this disease. The mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy regularly work with mesothelioma caregivers to help them navigate the complexities of the litigation process – so we’re here for you. If you have questions or concerns about filling a mesothelioma lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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Real Mesothelioma Stories: Ellen Patton

Mesothelioma is known as a devastating disease that can progress quickly. Treatments for mesothelioma can be expensive because they are often highly specialized, and the financial burden can cause added stress to family and friends already devastated by a mesothelioma diagnosis. Yet, even in the face of these trials, some people still have hope.

Ellen was one of those people.

Meet Ellen

Ellen Patton was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma ellenpatton2-300x200at 41 years old.

She had consistently been experiencing shortness of breath, but – chalking it up to stress and age – put off seeing a doctor. When she finally went, Ellen was absolutely blindsided by her mesothelioma diagnosis.

She had no idea she’d been exposed to asbestos growing up and that it could cause cancer decades later. Ellen’s exposure to asbestos came from multiple sources – her uncle’s occupational exposure, her father’s home improvement projects, and a number of other consumer products.

The doctor told Ellen she had 12 to 18 months to live. Because mesothelioma had invaded both of her lungs, she had minimal treatment options – surgery was too invasive and the side effects of chemotherapy could kill her. She opted for an alternative treatment: immune therapy. The alternative treatment was a huge financial burden and a great risk. The firm recovered a mesothelioma settlement on her behalf.* Ellen used that money to help her afford her treatments, which her health insurance wouldn’t cover.

Now a 14-year survivor, Ellen attends and presents at numerous Congressional meetings on behalf of mesothelioma victims throughout the world. “After outliving the 12 to 18 months prognosis I was given, I felt it was my duty to warn others of the dangers of asbestos,” Ellen said. “I needed to speak for those who had gone before me and could speak no more.”

She recently received the Alan Reinstein Award at the 2015 Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Conference to honor her advocacy work to ban asbestos.

In 2013, she and her sister-in-law started a soap making business, Breathe Products, which donates 10 percent of its profits to ADAO. Ellen’s battle with mesothelioma and treatments had put her dream of becoming a business owner on hold, but now, free to fulfill that dream, she couldn’t be happier. “Learning to make soap and perfecting its quality was a kind of therapy for me,” Ellen said in an ADAO interview. “Then I had the benefit of giving it to friends and family, as well as using it myself.”

Want more stories about our clients and their experiences with mesothelioma? Read them now.

*Please note that recovery results vary as they are based on the unique facts of each client’s specific case.

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Missouri Governor Signs Resolution Declaring Sept. 26 Mesothelioma Awareness Day

I’m excited to share that September 26 has officially been declared “Mesothelioma Awareness Day” in the state of Missouri. Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, which made the awareness day official throughout the state. The resolution was offered by Sen. Gina Walsh, a retired member of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 1.

meso awareness“Hundreds of Missourians, many of whom were exposed to asbestos while working in the building and construction trades, have been diagnosed with this rare and deadly disease,” said Gov. Nixon in a news article. “As with other cancers, raising awareness about their symptoms, risks and treatments can help to save lives. I thank Senator Walsh for offering this resolution and for her tireless efforts on behalf of her brothers and sisters in the building trades to combat this deadly disease.”

In 2010, Congress declared September 26th National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. However, designating the day in individual states still helps to spread awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma even further.

The day brings together thousands of volunteers, survivors and advocates who raise money towards mesothelioma research. Additionally, those activities receive dozens of instances of media coverage, furthering the reach for mesothelioma awareness.

Here at the firm, we are proud to be the presenting sponsor of four Miles for Meso races that take place in September in honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day. All proceeds from the races benefit charities that promote mesothelioma research and awareness. This year the firm’s Alton Miles for Meso 5K Run & 2K Run Run/Walk, which the firm’ hosts at its Alton, Illinois office, will take place on Sept. 26. Other races are being planned in Ohio, Virginia and Texas. Keep on the lookout for more updates in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Mesothelioma Awareness Day and the annual Miles for Meso events here.

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Asbestos Occupation Spotlight: U.S. Navy Veterans

More than 30 percent of Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma were navy_ship-200x300first exposed to asbestos during their time in the military. While veterans from all branches of the military were exposed to asbestos, Navy veterans account for an unusually high number of mesothelioma victims.

Nearly every ship and shipyard built by the U.S. Navy was constructed with asbestos materials. Asbestos was so common on navy ships and submarines because of its strength and heat-resistance properties – properties ideal for engine and boiler rooms that generate excessive amounts of heat.

More than 300 asbestos products and materials were used in the United States military. Asbestos covered the pipes, pumps, and motors that helped run the ship. Listed below are just a few of the asbestos products used on seagoing vessels:

  • Boiler insulation
  • Deck coverings
  • Cables
  • Grinders
  • Valves
  • Gaskets
  • Tubes
  • Pumps
  • Distillers
  • Cement
  • Fireproof doors and hatches
  • Adhesives
  • Packing material

Navy veterans who frequently came into contact with these materials during ship construction or routine maintenance may have been exposed to asbestos. Navy veterans working in these areas were at an especially high risk if asbestos fibers were disturbed and made airborne.

The Navy stopped building ships with asbestos in the early 1970s, but the vessels that already had asbestos still remained in use for many years after.

Given mesothelioma’s latency period of about 20 to 50 years, many Navy veterans are still being diagnosed with the horrible disease today. It is important for veterans to understand the risks asbestos exposure posed during their service, so they can be prepared to take action now.

Simmons Hanly Conroy has been working with Navy veterans affected by mesothelioma for over a decade. We are familiar with the laws specific to military veterans, and we use our experience to fight for your rights. If you are a Navy veteran battling mesothelioma, please contact us today for a free case consultation.

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Mesothelioma Caregiver Tips for the New Year

January 2015 marks the beginning of a new year and a time to start fresh. Whether you believe in New Year’s Resolutions or not, this is the perfect time to set new goals that can improve yourself – mentally, emotionally and physically. For mesothelioma caregivers, this is especially important.

The mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy commend all mesothelioma caregivers for their dedication, support and selfless giving to loved ones with mesothelioma. There is no question that being a mesothelioma caregiver can be challenging, stressful and emotionally draining. It’s important to remember, however, that in order to provide the best care for your loved one, you must first take care of yourself.

If you’re a mesothelioma caregiver, consider taking these steps to get a jump start on 2015:

Short Term Tips

Research and choose a support group.

No one should have to deal with such challenging circumstances alone, but with the right support, you don’t have to. Depending on your location, there are a variety of support groups available that will allow you to connect with others going through similar situations. You may even be able to join an online support group. Your oncologist or mesothelioma lawyer may be able to provide recommendations, or the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has a great program called Meso-Connect.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

You are one person – can you do it all? You shouldn’t have to. Turn to others – whether they are friends, family, therapists, or doctors – when needed. Other outlets, like volunteer groups that provide meals, or community resources that provide respite care, are available too. They are here to help, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. There is an online charitable program called Lotsa Helping Hands that provides online support to caregivers. They allow people who are caring for a loved one with an illness like mesothelioma to create an online private community to help with scheduling meals and care. Start your mesothelioma care community today.

Long Term Tips

Take care of yourself.

A support group can help emotionally, but what about your physical health? Are you getting enough sleep and time to de-stress? Remember: you can take better care of your loved one if you are physically well.

Here are some ideas: Schedule a certain amount of time each day, week or month that is solely yours. This can be 15 minutes to find a quiet place to read, or maybe a few hours to do something else you enjoy. Make an “appointment” with yourself and stick to it. Also, opt to make healthy, nutritious meals for yourself and your loved one. Nutritional needs are important and can help provide the energy you both need to get through the day.

Consider filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Some mesothelioma patients and caregivers put off the idea of filing a lawsuit because they think it will be more hassle than it’s worth. Fortunately with the right mesothelioma lawyer, this is not the case. For example, Simmons Hanly Conroy lawyers will meet with patients and their caregivers in their homes, making the lawsuit discussion and details convenient and stress-free. Additionally, our team will walk through the lawsuit process with you so you are aware of every step.

Mesothelioma lawsuits have the ability to drastically improve the life of yourself and your loved ones.* While no amount of compensation can buy you a medical miracle, a mesothelioma lawsuit can help ease the financial burden on your family. If you choose Simmons Hanly Conroy, there is absolutely no out-of-pocket expense to you or your family. . If you feel the time is right, contact our mesothelioma lawyers today.

*Please note that recovery results vary per client. The recovery amounts in each case reflect the specific facts of that case. Further, recovery amounts in past cases are not a guarantee of future results.

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