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Living With Mesothelioma
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Ask For Help

For many people, asking for help is a foreign concept. Perhaps it’s because it may make them feel inferior or perhaps it’s because they think it’s a sign of weakness. But when you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, asking for help is what you have to do. You need help from your medical team, spouse, family members and caregivers. Everyone understands that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or desperation. It’s simply being human.

Research shows that an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma; a majority of them are men. While the disease can injure women, men are more susceptible to the disease because they worked in the factories, shipyards and construction sites where asbestos use was commonplace. Often, women get exposed to asbestos secondhand, off of their spouse’s body, clothing and hair. The average man diagnosed with mesothelioma is between 50 and 77 years old, with a majority in their mid-60s.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that men, more than women, are resistant to asking for help. Studies show that men go to the doctors less than women, are more prone to ignoring signs and symptoms of an impending disease and are more likely to put off any medical exams.

Face Your Feelings

Everyday, the patient advocates at the Mesothelioma Support Network field calls from men and women who have just been diagnosed with mesothelioma. They’re worried, scared and confused. Having mesothelioma means that you’ll be dealing with a lot of devastating feelings. Facing those feelings means not avoiding them, but letting them happen. If you want to cry and scream, go ahead. This helps you release the anxiety. But at some point, you have to focus on the task at hand – while you heal your body, you have to heal your soul. There are several ways to do this:

  • Affirmations – Find an affirmation that works for you, like “I am strong” or “I can fight” and say it dozens of times a day. The more you say it, the easier it will be to believe it. At first it might seem ridiculous, but over time the phrase gets stuck in your head.
  • Create – One way to nurture your mind is by exploring your creative side. Write your thoughts in a journal. Pick up a paintbrush and start creating. Start a craft that you’ve been thinking about.
  • Interact – Find someone who is going through the same thing and talk it out.

Support Groups and Counselors

Whether it’s in person or online, there are support groups for everything, including mesothelioma victims. By sharing your story and helping others, you can enter into an environment of encouragement and optimism. Online, it’s easy to remain anonymous while you share your mesothelioma treatment tips and suggestions. In person, it’s nice to share a cup of coffee and commiserate with a group of people going through treatment just like you.

In addition, one-on-one counseling can be a great way to deal with your concerns and stress. Licensed and trained mental-health professionals can also evaluate and prescribe medications that can alleviate the depression and anxiety that comes with mesothelioma.

Managing Your Diagnosis

It is vital to be open and honest about what you are feeling during your mesothelioma treatment. Studies show that those suffering from a chronic illness are prone to depression. By seeking help, you can fortify your mind and body against mesothelioma.

Many physicians today are utilizing Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) that include managing a diagnosis through the mind-body connection, which is the physical response to an emotion. Some primary CAM practices include acupuncture, yoga and meditation, just to name a few.

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