Cancer & Caregiving

Guest Post: Caring for a Mesothelioma Patient

Written By:
Oct 11, 2012
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Written By: Nadia Persaud,
October 11, 2012

Today’s guest post is coming to us from Visiting Angels, a service that helps seniors, adults with chronic illnesses, and those recovering from surgery or injury to continue living in their own homes – rather than a facility – by assisting them with dressing, housekeeping, shopping, bathing, meal preparation, and errands.

Finding out a loved one has mesothelioma can be devastating news, and thinking about caring for them can be daunting. You may find yourself asking, “What can I do to help them?” and “How will this affect my everyday life?”

Because mesothelioma is a malignant and fatal cancer, it takes a lot of strength from you, friends and family members to help your loved one to live a happy, comfortable and healthy life, no matter the severity of this illness. But while caring for someone with mesothelioma can be both physically and mentally draining, it is possible for both your loved one and yourself to live a productive life after diagnosis.

What is Mesothelioma and Who Does It Affect?

There are many things you can do to make things easier on both you as the caretaker and your loved one. First, you should educate yourself on the illness. Mesothelioma is a rare and highly aggressive form of cancer typically caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

This disease affects one’s mesothelium, the thin membrane that protects the lungs, heart and other organs. If asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, fibers can lodge themselves into this lining. Those who are exposed to asbestos fibers are many times military veterans, specifically those who served in the U.S. Navy, construction, demolition and renovation workers, auto mechanics, insulators, shipyard workers, asbestos mine employees, millers, manufacturing plant workers and boiler workers.

How Can Mesothelioma Be Treated?

While treatment depends on many factors, such as the stage of someone’s cancer, the patient’s overall health, type of mesothelioma and the location of tumors, there are various treatment options and plans available. Available treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and more.

Just because mesothelioma is so aggressive does not mean it is always resistant to treatment. Many patients are able to lead normal lives with the disease by managing their symptoms with one or more treatment options.

What Can You Do to Care for a Mesothelioma Patient?

  • Educate Yourself: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to know as much as possible about the disease such as symptoms, treatment plans, and more. In order to care for the patient in the best way possible, you need to know all of the key information regarding mesothelioma. You can gain knowledge by talking to medical professionals, reading medical books, and looking for reliable sources on the internet.
  • Be strong: It’s important to be strong for both you and your loved one. While you are experiencing distress and grief, your loved one is also experiencing the same at an even higher intensity.
  • Ensure Medication is Taken: Simple things such as taking medications on time and taking the correct dosage are ways to help the patient’s condition. These medications have a direct effect on their condition and help relieve pain and treat the cancer. As a caregiver, it’s important to understand the role that medications have in controlling their disease and putting your loved one on the path to comfort and recovery.
  • Keep a Record: Keep a diary of your loved one’s progress and any changes in health or behavior. Often they will not recognize changes themselves, which is where you come in. It’s important for a doctor to be able to view a progress report so the doctor can determine the next steps in treatment. This is also a great way for you and your loved one to see that they are slowly but surely returning to a normal life, even though treatment is involved. This can be encouraging to both of you.
  • Recruit Help: This is not a one-person job. Don’t let it become one. Non-medical, home-care assistance can be there when you can’t. Home-care services can help your loved one with personal care and hygiene assistance, meal preparation, housekeeping, errands, safety supervision, and companionship. Home care is a great option, allowing you to maintain your busy schedule and commitments. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your loved one is being well-cared for. There are many trusted home-care agencies from which to choose. Home-care services are personalized to you and your loved one.

Taking care of a loved one with mesothelioma can be challenging and is not an easy road. However, with love, care and the help from others, you both can lead a life of quality and help give your loved one the drive and inspiration to overcome the obstacles he or she will face.

Visiting Angels aids are certified, licensed, and thoroughly screened. Part-time to live-in care. If you are interested in their services, you can call them at (609) 883-8188 or visit them them here.

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