What to Do if You’re Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Few things are scarier in life than hearing those three words: You have cancer. And it can be especially challenging if you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, which typically isn’t identified by healthcare specialists until it’s progressed into advanced stages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan. What follows are seven steps to take after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

Understand Your Diagnosis

Start by taking a moment to process the news. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Once you’re ready, start gathering information about mesothelioma so that you can get familiar with what you’re facing. 

Understanding your specific type of mesothelioma, how far it has progressed, and what treatment options are available can empower you to make more strategic decisions. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor questions. Write them down before your appointments so you don’t forget. Knowledge might be one of your most powerful tools in your fight with mesothelioma.

Seek a Second Opinion

Before making any decisions, consider getting a second opinion from another specialist. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and consulting with a doctor who specializes in this field can provide additional insights or treatment options. 

A second opinion can also offer reassurance about your diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. When you hear the same thing from two different specialists, it gives a level of comfort that you’re proceeding in the right way. 

Explore Treatment Options

Your treatment plan will depend on several factors, including the type and stage of mesothelioma, your overall health, and your preferences. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these. Some patients may also qualify for clinical trials, which can provide access to new and potentially effective treatments. Discuss all possible options with your healthcare team to determine the best course of action for you.

Manage Symptoms and Side Effects

Mesothelioma and its treatments can lead to a range of symptoms and side effects, such as pain, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. Work with your healthcare team to manage these effectively. 

Symptom management might involve medication, physical therapy, nutritional support, or complementary therapies like massage or acupuncture. Remember, the goal is not only to treat the cancer but also to maintain your quality of life.

Build a Support System

Facing mesothelioma is not something you should do alone. Lean on family and friends for emotional support. They can also help with practical tasks, like getting to appointments or managing day-to-day chores. It may also be helpful to join a support group for people with mesothelioma. By connecting with others who understand what you’re going through, you can get a level of encouragement that isn’t always possible with people who have never been through it.

Consider Legal and Financial Planning

Mesothelioma is often linked to asbestos exposure, which may have occurred decades before your diagnosis. In many cases, this exposure is related to your work environment or home. In these instances, you may be entitled to compensation from employers or asbestos manufacturers, which can help cover treatment costs and provide for your family. 

In these situations, consulting with an attorney who specializes in mesothelioma cases can give you an idea of your options. You don’t have to follow through with a lawsuit or claim, but you’ll at least have the “lay of the land,” so to speak, so that you understand which options exist.

Financial planning is also crucial. Treatment can be expensive, and it’s important to understand your insurance coverage and explore any available assistance programs to help manage costs. This is something most people have to carefully budget for.

Focus on Your Well-being

Taking care of your emotional and physical well-being is essential. This might include eating a healthy diet, staying as active as possible, finding time for activities you enjoy, and practicing stress-relief techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises. Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s okay to have good days and bad days. Nobody is expecting you to hold everything together all of the time. 

Stay Informed & Move With Purpose

Research on mesothelioma is ongoing, and new treatments and discoveries are being made. Always do your best to stay informed about the latest developments, but also be cautious of information overload. Stick to reliable sources and discuss any new information you find with your healthcare team.

When you’re informed, it allows you to make more strategic decisions – ones that prioritize both your physical and emotional health. Remember this, and look for ways to put one foot in front of the other!