Men’s Health Week: Staying Strong with Mesothelioma
Father’s Day is right around the corner, and with it comes a special focus on men’s health and well-being.
National Men’s Health Week takes place the week leading up to Father’s Day and is the cornerstone of Men’s Health Month. This year the event runs June 15-21.
This emphasis on men’s health is an opportunity to highlight lifestyle changes and other ways men diagnosed with mesothelioma can stay healthy during treatment.
Men over the age of 65 who have been exposed to asbestos have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. Men’s Health Week brings awareness to ways men can take charge of their health with proper attention to nutrition, exercise and emotional health.
As part of the week’s celebrations, June 19 has been named “Wear Blue Friday.” Mesothelioma survivors will recognize that blue is also the color of mesothelioma awareness.
Men’s Health Tips for Mesothelioma Patients
Men with mesothelioma can benefit from the following guidelines that help promote good health.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Proper diet and nutrition are critical components of mesothelioma treatment. Eating right allows your body to maintain immunity and recover from treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.
Following diet and nutrition guidelines can be challenging when dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis. Foods might lose their taste, and waves of nausea can greatly diminish appetite.
However, men have an opportunity to change the way they think about eating and preparing food. One of the best ways to overcome nausea during mesothelioma treatment is to take in multiple smaller meals and snacks throughout the day.
A healthy mesothelioma diet involves high levels of protein and low sugar content. Smaller portions throughout the day of grilled chicken salads, baked beans or bananas will provide the starch, vegetable, fruit and protein nutrition that men need.
Trying new cuisines can be surprisingly useful in combating the dullness of typical meals. Adding new flavors or textures will make these meals more enjoyable, too. Try adding hot peppers, ginger or fresh herbs and spices to old favorites.
While smoking cessation can be one of the most effective paths to long-term health, it can also be one of the most difficult. Smoking limits the body’s ability to heal from both cancer and cancer treatment. It also increases the likelihood of developing heart disease and other cancers in men.
Quitting may take several attempts, and cancer patients are likely to blame themselves when it doesn’t work the first time. However, smoking is a deeply ingrained habit, and quitting requires the use of many support resources.
Men with a mesothelioma diagnosis who wish to stop smoking can find help through programs offered by many cancer treatment centers. These programs identify the reasons each person smokes and help patients find alternatives to their habit. Developing a plan to quit can add years to a mesothelioma patient’s life.
Get Enough Sleep
As men get older, sleeping habits can be harder to maintain, and this is especially true for men with mesothelioma. Falling asleep and staying asleep becomes more difficult as disturbances are more frequent, and stresses from a cancer diagnosis accumulate over time.
A good night’s sleep has a multitude of benefits for mesothelioma patients. Men over 65 who get at least six hours of sleep every night have lower chances of heart disease and diabetes. Long-term effects of insomnia also include obesity, depression and stroke.
Identifying the type of sleeper you are is an excellent first step in changing your sleep habits. If you prefer cold temperatures at night, set the thermostat earlier before bed, use fewer sheets or add a fan in the bedroom.
When it’s time to sleep, the room should be dark and quiet. However, motion lights can help prevent falls during a trip to the bathroom. A new pillow, mattress or sheet set is also a good investment in your sleep hygiene and long-term health.
Men with mesothelioma have many reasons to increase their exercise. Exercise boosts the immune system and helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule. Improving your strength and range of motion also helps combat the side effects of some mesothelioma treatments.
While traditional exercises may be more challenging for cancer patients, and many gyms remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of gentle and manageable activities can provide the same benefit.
Daily walks with light weights improve cardiovascular health. Range of motion exercises, such as yoga, reduce stress and anxiety while strengthening the musculoskeletal system.
Maintain Emotional Health
Unfortunately, mental and emotional support for men often does not get enough attention. Men’s Health Week highlights the benefits of mental health and stress relief for men in a positive and meaningful way.
Stress and anxiety from a mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming. Fear is also prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people not knowing how to cope. It’s essential to recognize that these emotions are natural and valid responses to stress.
Changes to daily habits and routines can help manage anxiety and provide significant benefits to mental health. Limiting news consumption is an excellent way to prevent exposure to unnecessary sources of stress. Instead, staying connected with family and loved ones provides feelings of support and togetherness.
Simple acts such as reading, painting or gardening can also act as therapy. These pursuits improve mindfulness, promote activity and help pass the time. It’s also important to recognize when negative emotions are limiting daily activities and routines. Support groups and mental health therapists are an essential resource.
Celebrate Father’s Day
At the end of Men’s Health Week, men can look forward to celebrating Father’s Day with their families. Dads everywhere should take time to reflect on the love they’ve given and received from everyone who’s looked up to them as a father.
While men battling cancer may have a limited ability to host a barbecue or build something with power tools, there are more than a few good ways to celebrate. A game night, movie marathon or picnic are great alternatives.
Thoughtful gifts such as meaningful books, personal keepsakes or useful electronics show dad you’re thinking of him daily. Most importantly, Father’s Day is a time for everyone to spend quality time with the man who has given them a lifetime of love, laughter and joy.