As with any cancer diagnosis, a mesothelioma diagnosis is incredibly difficult for patients. It is natural to feel defeated and hopeless when faced with such life-changing events, but how you handle your role, as a patient with mesothelioma, can dictate how much this illness will control your life. There is no doubt that this will be a difficult challenge, but by educating yourself, taking time for yourself and remembering that there are resources available during every aspect of care, you can be a contributing part of your own care team.
It is important to remember that you are the center of your care team. You play the largest role and you will make all of the major decisions regarding your mesothelioma treatment. Have confidence in your judgment, but also be willing to listen to the advice of others. There are ways to keep yourself at the center of your treatment plan and move through your plan with greater ease and understanding.
Make time for questions and answers. Even if your doctor seems rushed, ask your questions and show your team that you are going to be an active member in this resolution. Be prepared by writing down all of your mesothelioma cancer symptoms and questions before going to your appointment. Gather brochures and reading materials. Ask your doctor, nurse or social worker to direct you to a website from a true research foundation that deals with mesothelioma and other cancers. It is often hard to accept, but you have to clarify any issues you don’t quite understand and be informed about the different mesothelioma treatment options so you are able to participate in your mesothelioma treatment plan.
Some clear questions to ask would be what type of mesothelioma do I have and how did they come to this diagnosis? What different types of treatment are available? What factors affect the treatment plan? But most of all, ask all those scary questions that you know deep down you are trying to avoid. What are the success rates of such treatments? What is the normal life expectancy of someone at my stage of mesothelioma? This is why it is all-too-important to take a friend or family member with you to your visits. This other set of unbiased ears helps you sort through the complicated mesothelioma information. Oftentimes, as patients, our minds may wander or dwell on one point we hear and we end up missing other important information being provided. Having someone with you throughout your visits and treatment can be priceless to your well-being and understanding.
Utilize the entourage of mesothelioma specialists, oncologists, social workers, doctors and nurses you will be meeting with to answer all of your questions about insurance, mesothelioma treatments, second opinions and each decision you will have to make, but most of all, if you can, take the time to take care of yourself. Eat well and get rest whenever you feel the urge. Seek counseling or mesothelioma support groups with others who have experienced mesthelioma themselves. The stronger you are inside, the stronger you will be dealing with your mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment.