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7 Ways to Support a Loved One with Mesothelioma

Grocery shopping

When a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the natural reaction is to want to help.

It is common for loved ones to feel helpless because the health care team is providing the hands-on medical care to treat the disease. But caregivers can do many things to support someone in treatment for mesothelioma.

Many mesothelioma patients say they hear, “Let me know if there is anything I can do” regularly when people offer assistance.

It is more helpful to offer specific ways you are willing to help. Most patients don’t want to feel like a burden and don’t know what is meant when someone makes a general offer of help.

Are they offering financial assistance, to pray for them, to do their laundry? It is best to think of what you are able to do in terms of time, energy and finances for your loved one and then offer what you can easily manage.

Suggestions to Help Someone with Cancer

Here are some general suggestions that many cancer patients say they have found helpful:

  • Grocery Shop for Them: The average person goes to the grocery store about twice a week. You can call our loved one or their caregiver to see if there is anything you can pick up and drop off. Additionally, you can offer to do their weekly shopping if they give you a list.

  • Be Their Point of Contact: It can feel overwhelming to patients or their primary caregiver to try and keep everyone updated, so you can offer to be the point person to spread news and updates to extended family and friends.

  • Offer a Ride: If you are able to do so, you can offer to drive your loved one to doctor appointments or treatments.

  • Handle Some Chores: Depending on your ability, you can offer to help with yard work and minor household projects that your loved one with mesothelioma can’t do. If they have pets, you can offer to watch them or give them some exercise.

  • Run Errands: Offering to pick up medications, drop off dry cleaning or go to the post office might be helpful to your loved one.

  • Offer Companionship: If your loved one isn’t able to get out much to socialize, you can offer to pick up a meal and spend time with them at home. Watching movies, playing board games or doing a puzzle are some low-key suggestions. Engaging in activities that feel normal is helpful for loved ones who are spending a lot of time coping with their illness.

  • Give Thoughtful Gifts: It is best to avoid gifts such as books about cancer or sad movies. Consider instead lighthearted magazines and word puzzle or sudoku books. If your loved one doesn’t have a Netflix account, offer to get them a subscription so they can watch TV shows and movies anywhere. Offering to organize and pay for a cleaning service or a meal delivery service is a generous gift, however, you need to ensure your loved one is open to these services before organizing it.

Help Should Be Individualized

Because everyone is unique and finds different things helpful and supportive, it is best to consider a loved one’s personality when offering help.

Always ask permission and guidance from the mesothelioma patient before doing anything that might seem intrusive such as organizing a cleaning service or offering to accompany them to their appointments.

Everyone differs in what they find helpful when they are sick, but with a little thought about what your loved one likes and values, you can let them know you care and make their life a little easier or brighter in the process.


Dana Nolan

Dana Nolan, MS, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor who leads The Mesothelioma Center's monthly support group. She specializes in working with individuals affected by cancer. Dana practices in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Read More

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