Tips from Lorraine Kember to Mesothelioma Caregivers: You Will Survive

Flowers growing in a tough place

Undoubtedly, we were mortally wounded. We suffered shock, disbelief, anger, helplessness and utter despair. In fact, we felt all the symptoms of grief one feels when a loved one actually has died.

What makes this disease particularly hard is that the life expectancy after most diagnoses of any form of mesothelioma is shorter than those of most other cancers. Doctors and cancer treatment centers have yet to treat mesothelioma with the same success that they do breast cancer and many other cancers.

Never Fear the Unknown

What also makes such a diagnosis difficult to deal with as a family — as a wife — is the unknown. Because successful treatments followed by long-term survivals are so rare, it’s hard to know when you make good caregiver decisions. And it can be hard for the patient to know when he makes sound decisions about his own treatment.

With no way of knowing how long Brian would survive, I saw every symptom he experienced as an indication of his impending death. I felt tightness in my chest, often became short of breath and groaned involuntarily.

Man Looking Into the Sunset

I wished there was someone I could talk to, but I had nowhere to turn. My children were trying to come to terms with their own grief and it upset them if I made any mention of their father’s deterioration.

At times I felt that I was the only one who believed he was dying.

But as painful as the experience can be, there’s a hopeful message. You will survive. You will emerge a stronger, if changed, person. You will appreciate things you never did before.

I can tell you this because I lived it. And I survived it.

Do you have questions for Lorraine? Let her know in the comments below or on Facebook. Lorraine also has a video on Life as a Mesothelioma Caregiver.

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Lorraine Kember is the author of "Lean on Me," an inspirational personal account of her husband's courageous battle with mesothelioma. She is an accomplished public speaker in Australia and is passionate about sharing her journey with cancer.

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