Stress Management Tips from a 14-Year Mesothelioma Survivor
August 18, 2021
Stress is definitely a word that is heard every day – sometimes multiple times a day.
A cancer diagnosis is stressful for patients and their loved ones. Unfortunately, that’s not going away anytime soon, especially once you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
There will always be stress, whether you’re waiting for the results of your recent scans, trying to juggle your newfound caregiving responsibilities, or worrying about the high cost of cancer treatment.
Many studies and research have shown the impact stress can have on your physical and mental well-being. Some effects stress can have on the body include, but are not limited to:
- Upset digestive system
- Suppressed immune system
- Risk of heart attack and stroke
- Mental health problems
Ways to Manage Mesothelioma Stress
When you’re battling mesothelioma, the entire process is stressful and very overwhelming. Medications and treatments have various side effects, and stress can magnify these. What if you knew of different ways to help manage the stress?
During my 14-year journey with peritoneal mesothelioma, I discovered some helpful tips that enabled me to cope with stress. Here are a few of them:
- Take a break and slow down. Being on the go is part of our daily lives, but going here, there and everywhere can heighten your stress. But if you slow down, it will help calm you.
- Spend time with family. Spending quality time with family can help take your mind off your diagnosis.
- Laugh. Ever heard the saying, “laughter is good for the soul”? It’s true. Turn on your favorite movie or show and just laugh.
- Listen to soothing music. It’s been said that soothing music can induce a relaxation response and lower stress hormones.
- Breathe deeply. Breathe in deeply through your nose, allowing your lungs to fully expand, enabling your belly to rise. This helps slow your heart rate and brings about peace.
These tips are just some of many, but are designed to help get your mind off the source of your stress.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Two things that are hard to do are saying no and asking for help. Asking for help is certainly a way to help relieve stress, and it doesn’t diminish you as a person.
There are so many free services and resources available to mesothelioma patients and families that can make a world of difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see what’s available to you.
If you’re not sure where to get started, I highly recommend the Patient Advocates at The Mesothelioma Center. While I didn’t know about them when I was first diagnosed, they’ve been wonderful in recent years.
Patient Advocates are dedicated to helping patients and their family members who have been affected by mesothelioma cancer. Some services include:
- Connecting patients with local supports groups
- Assisting with financial and legal options
- Helping locate the best doctors and treatment facilities near you
- Providing customized literature and books for each patient’s diagnosis
One important takeaway is to note that everyone is different, so choose which coping mechanism works for you.
Stress is a part of life. It’s true we can’t always control our circumstances, or being diagnosed with mesothelioma, but we can control our response.