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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How To Deal With A Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which starts in the mesothelium, which are the cells that line the internal organs in the body. If you have been diagnosed with this rare form of cancer, you may feel overwhelmed and scared, both of which are completely normal reactions. However, there are some things you can do help cope with the diagnosis and treatment.

Learn as much as possible about your condition. If possible, bring a friend or family member to your doctor's appointments. Not only can a loved one provide emotional support, he or she can also listen and recall information you may forget.


One of the first things done after an initial diagnosis is staging of the cancer. Staging is done to determine the extent of the cancer. Mesothelioma is categorized from Stage I to Stage IV. Stage I indicates the cancer has not spread beyond the cell lining. Stage IV means the cancer has already spread to other organs, such as the brain, the blood or the lymphatic system.

Before you meet with your doctor, write down questions in advance. This may help prevent you from forgetting something during your appointment. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. Be your own health advocate. Gaining knowledge about mesothelioma will help you decide with your physician on treatments and may also help you feel more in control.

Discuss all treatment options. The type of treatment recommended may depend on the stage of the cancer, your age and overall health. Most often mesothelioma is treated with a combination of chemotherapy medications. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be used, depending on the stage at which the cancer has been diagnosed.

Ask about possible side effects and what can be done to reduce them. For example, some chemotherapy medications may cause nausea. Medications to combat this side effect may help. Knowing what to expect may help reduce fears about treatments. It may also give you time to develop ways to cope.

Don't be afraid to accept help. Although everyone may react to treatment differently, you may have some fatigue, nausea and reduced ability to fight infection. Getting help with household chores, meals or childcare may help you cope with both the cancer and the treatments.

Costs for mesothelioma treatment can be high. Even with insurance, there may be co-payments for appointments and tests. You may also have lost wages. Call your state's disability office to determine if you qualify for disability insurance. Contact the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. They have information about various organizations which offer financial assistance for cancer patients.

Physical issues are not the only thing you may deal with after a diagnosis, especially considering the low likelihood of a positive mesothelioma prognosis. Emotional issues are also likely to develop. Feelings of depression, fear and helplessness are all normal and may occur. Participating in activities you enjoy, such as hobbies and spending time with friends may help. Joining a support group may also be a way to deal with emotional issues. Ask your doctor about support groups at your hospital or contact the American Cancer Society. They may be able to refer you to a group in your area.

Getting through treatment can be tough. However, having a strong support system, becoming educated about your disease and taking good care of yourself may help. Eat well, exercise with your doctor's approval and rest when you need to.

1 comment:

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