As we flip our calendar from 2015 to 2016, our thoughts typically shift to taking stock of our lives, reflecting upon the past and planning for the future.
It is a time of well-intentioned resolutions and turning over new leaves with the hope of feeling healthier and happier.
Similarly, there are certain life events where we pause and evaluate our lives. Birthdays (especially big milestones like 30, 40, 50 or 65) typically make us more aware of our age, health and where we are on the path of our lives. Divorce or the death of loved ones can also lead us to re-examine our lives and
A mesothelioma diagnosis is certainly one of those life events. Because mesothelioma is a life-limiting illness, it can challenge our long-term plans regarding our roles, relationships, careers, retirement plans and financial security.
Some people with mesothelioma may find themselves wondering, ‘Will I be alive at the end of 2016?’ or ‘Will I be well enough to travel to our annual family reunion this summer?’
Positive thoughts may be difficult to maintain when a patient’s pain is worsening, and their energy is waning. It may be even more devastating when their oncologist tells them the disease is not responding to treatment.
But there are ways you and your loved ones can overcome the challenge of planning for the future.
Planning for the New Year
The new year is a time for planning fun activities, vacations, work projects and professional goals.
Here are a few tips to help those with mesothelioma and their loved ones plan for the new year:
- Balance and flexibility are key.
- Expect you may be in and out of treatment this year. If there is something major you would like to do this year, talk to your oncologist about the feasibility and timing of taking a break from treatment to take that big trip or to focus on achieving that milestone you’ve been working on for years.
- Expect the unexpected and plan for contingencies. This means that you should not spend a large chunk of your savings on a nonrefundable trip or make plans that can’t be altered in case of a change in your health status.
- Accept the notion that the patient and caregiver may not have the energy or desire to continue ambitious work, travel or recreational schedules this year.
- Explain to family and friends that you may need to scale back your activities because of your or your loved one’s illness.
- Investigate what or who causes stress in your life and vow to try and let go of people or responsibilities that drain you emotionally or physically. This will allow you to focus on those relationships and activities that are truly meaningful to you.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations
The new year is a time of renewal and reflection for everyone.
It is no different for those affected by mesothelioma. However, a terminal illness can certainly change those things we hope and dream for in the new year,
and they will affect the plans we make.
With realistic expectations and some flexibility, people with mesothelioma and their caregivers can continue to make plans and set goals this year.