Experts predicted that some 1.9 million people would be diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone in 2021. Among many types of cancer, mesothelioma constitutes a rather atypical diagnosis. Many human beings lost their lives after acquiring this deadly disease. Also, patients who suffer from malignant mesothelioma die within 12 months on average. So, it isn’t easy caring for someone who has this rare illness! You need to understand this syndrome before caring for someone who has it.
Tips for caregivers dealing with mesothelioma patients
There’s only one known cause of mesothelioma, i.e., asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral with flexible threads. It’s used in construction materials for insulation due to its heat-resistant properties. For years, manufacturers exposed several workers to asbestos without realizing its harmful impact on a person’s respiratory system. When inhaled, these particles lead to different diseases such as lung/ovarian cancer. Sometimes, it can take years for a person to be diagnosed with this disease. At stage 1, more than 40% of patients live for two years. At stage 4, patients typically survive for a year. So, taking care of someone with mesothelioma isn’t an easy task! But these suggestions can help you make their life better:
- Reduce Side Effects
The first thing you’ll do involves reducing the side effects of mesothelioma. So, you must understand the signs of mesothelioma and the issues that accompany this ailment. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include fever, coughing, breathing problems, and chest pain. Similarly, a patient who undergoes surgery also suffers from post-surgical effects, i.e., fatigue. Also, treatments for mesothelioma (e.g., chemotherapy) lead to nausea among patients and related problems.
- Provide Emotional Support
As the primary caregiver, it’s your job to provide emotional support to the patient. One can imagine how psychologically distressing it can be to acquire a fatal disease like this. Patients require as much emotional support from caregivers, friends, and family members as possible. It can help boost their willpower so they may survive longer than doctors predicted. Don’t underestimate the power of compassion and moral support. It keeps the patient’s mental health intact as well.
- Educate Yourself Properly
Caregivers must educate themselves properly regarding mesothelioma and complications that arise due to this ailment. We’ve provided a brief overview in the paragraphs above, but caregivers should deeply study this disease. It includes studying cancer types, side effects, and treatment options for mesothelioma. Also, you must educate the patient as well and enhance their know-how about this deadly disease. It’ll help the patient overcome the anxiety that often accompanies such ailments.
- Get Legal Help
In the past, many companies manufactured asbestos-containing products or exposed their workers to this mineral while knowing that asbestos was unsafe. When these people were diagnosed with cancer, they sued these companies. An average mesothelioma lawsuit can land them now $1 million to $1.5 million easily! So, caregivers can also provide legal assistance to patients and help them get justice. It’ll also allow patients to get the financial backing to support their treatment.
- Provide Pulmonary Care
Mainly mesothelioma attacks a person’s lungs. So, you should provide pulmonary/respiratory care to the patient to ease their suffering. The patient faces difficulty while breathing with other symptoms such as coughing/wheezing. Though the disease doesn’t have a cure right now, all these symptoms are treatable. So, providing pulmonary therapies comforts a patient during this illness.
- Join Support Groups
There are several support groups for cancer patients as well. A simple Google search will allow you to contact several online foundations dedicated to mesothelioma and organizations that help folks suffering from this asbestos-related disease. Remember that your patient requires all the help in the world! So, contact these organizations and join mesothelioma support groups. It’ll help them feel less isolated communicating with individuals suffering from the same disease like them.
- Encourage Quick Treatment
There are many treatment options available for patients to increase their life expectancy and spend their days comfortably. They often involve chemotherapy and radiation therapies. A patient can also try unconventional treatments if their caregiver convinces them! For instance, energy healing can boost your mental and physical health while relieving your stress levels. A study shows that cancer patients receiving distant reiki experience reduced anxiety and tension.
- Monitor Their Health
As the caregiver, you shall remain in constant contact with the doctor. So, it’s also your job to track the patient’s progress and monitor health-related metrics. Moreover, caregivers manage a patient’s medications. So, they can help doctors to decide if the dose needs to be adjusted or some medicine must be added/eliminated. Just as traditional RNs in our healthcare system, caregivers also serve as patient advocates. They speak on behalf of their patients and help them become better.
- Tolerate Their Anger
Don’t forget that cancer patients are prone to sudden outbursts and episodes of depression. So, it would help to maintain a positive attitude if you tolerated their “bad days” by seeing things from their perspective as the healthy person in this relationship. Expecting the patient to act cordially will only increase their annoyance and frustration. Give them some space. Also, prevent yourself from making the patient feel stressed. Improve their life quality better if you can!
- Monitor Your Health
Don’t forget to monitor your health while caring for your patient. The caregiver’s health is almost as important as the patient’s! Statistics published by Health Line show that some 40% of caregivers feel “emotionally stressed” while 20% are physically overwhelmed by this job. So, don’t ignore the signs of mental weakness, e.g., insomnia, appetite loss, and stress. Get yourself some good hours of sleep, healthy meals daily, and regular exercise. Hence, take care of yourself as well.
It may seem difficult for caregivers to help someone cope with this deadly disease. From a practical viewpoint, it’s similar to caring for someone with cancer! You should provide emotional support to the patient and monitor their health. Convince the patient to try different treatment options to reduce the side effects of this disease. Also, caregivers must educate themselves about mesothelioma and the complications of cancer. Moreover, don’t forget to monitor your health since only a healthy person can be a caregiver. So, hopefully – with your loving support – the patient can spend their last days comfortably.