A cancer diagnosis is always difficult to accept, but managing mesothelioma can be particularly difficult. Learning to cope with a mesothelioma diagnosis is the first step towards treatment.
Nobody wants to hear the words "You have cancer". But people diagnosed with mesothelioma may find their diagnosis even more difficult. "This cancer is generally considered an adverse prognostic cancer since the beginning," says Alan D. Valentine, MD, associate psychiatrist and associate professor of medicine (psychiatry) at the Dr. Anderson MD Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, when treatment is difficult and the prognosis is poor. This makes the diagnosis of mesothelioma even more difficult to treat, says Dr. Valentine. "Patients are immediately affected by this," he adds, which can cause immediate stress and anxiety.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma: the emotional impact
A diagnosis of cancer, especially mesothelioma, can cause a wide range of emotions and make you feel:
- Shocked and incredulous
-Anxious about what will happen
People with mesothelioma are often entitled to a settlement if they have been exposed to asbestos at work. In the face of the daunting challenge of treating mesothelioma and the possibility of lengthy court proceedings, mesothelioma may seem too difficult to manage.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma: "Be your own lawyer"
In 2004, Paul S. Zygielbaum of Santa Rosa, California, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, which is located in the abdomen. Mesothelioma is extremely rare, and its type even more so. He had trouble finding doctors who knew a lot about the disease - so he became an expert in the field.
"You have to understand not only the disease, but also the treatment options," says Zygielbaum. You must be prepared with questions and find a health professional you trust for your care and treatment. "You can not go into uncertainty," he says.
Facing his diagnosis and prognosis was not easy, but he discovered that laughter was a good way to manage it. "You have to keep your spirits up," Zygielbaum said. He joked about relaxing and helping others, and used humor to get through this difficult time.
Faced with a difficult operation, Zygielbaum's goal is to help him follow his treatment and recover. He and his wife had planned a trip to France and he was determined to make this trip. And he did it - about seven weeks after his surgery.
"It was something to hope for," he says. "Otherwise, you focus on the bad things, and it's not going to help you."
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma: Adaptation Tips
When faced with a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you may not know where to start to cope with the situation and make you feel better. Here are some tips to help you cope and start considering treatment:
Continue your usual routine. You will not feel uncomfortable and less like yourself if everything in your life is different. Concentrate on daily activities such as paying bills, cleaning the house, taking care of children or pets and going to the grocery store.
Express your feelings. You can write in a journal for yourself or talk to a friend, family member or therapist. These techniques can be useful for recognizing and managing your emotions. Allow yourself to be completely honest.
Start learning about it. Do some research yourself, see doctors and ask questions. Browse the Internet and library books to find out more about mesothelioma treatment options and what recovery will be like. Take notes that you can review later, or bring them to the doctor's office when you have questions.
Spend time with your friends and family. You want more than ever their love, their support, their company and their distraction. Organize fun activities and family events that will help you forget about your health and remind you why your treatment is so important.
Join a support group Try to find a support group for mesothelioma or other cancer, in your city or online. You will find that the support and advice of others in your situation is a great help. Check the Internet and your phone book and ask your doctor for advice.
Even though you may feel lonely and no one else can understand what you are going through, you are not. Contact others who have experienced mesothelioma and trust when you need it. You will be able to support each other during this difficult time and face cancer treatment together.