Relying on Family During a Mesothelioma Battle

Cancer & Caregiving

It can often be hard to ask family members for help, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. As the patient, you want to be independent and not seem as if you’re helpless.

I totally get it, but during my battle with peritoneal mesothelioma I learned how to lean on my family. I had to get over the initial feelings of them feeling sorry for me because I had cancer, and look at it from another perspective. My family wanted to help me because they love and care for me. 

A lot of times our minds can be tricky, and thoughts such as “my family thinks I’m helpless” or “I’m a burden to them” crop up. Don’t believe those thoughts because they can lead you to refuse help when you really need it.

Get Your Tribe Together 

I was diagnosed with mesothelioma about five months after giving birth to my son. I was young and still trying to figure out the whole motherhood thing, so relying on family to help me was normal. 

When I told my family I had cancer they didn’t take the news lightly and jumped right in. They helped me find out what mesothelioma was and what my treatment options were. My appointments became like a family affair. When I arrived for check-ins they were already in the waiting area – my mom, grandparents, sisters and aunts. 

Everyone’s situation is different, and I want to point out that “family” doesn’t always have to mean a blood relative. Family can be a close friend, a neighbor you trust deeply or your best friend from church.

My husband, who was then my fiancé, was my biggest support. Without hesitation, he jumped in with both feet and did everything within his power to help me get through the battle. He was present at every appointment, scan and test. 

After I had HIPEC surgery I couldn’t do a lot of things, such as hold my son, bathe him or do my usual daily tasks. My husband took on the role of mom and dad. He got up at night for diaper changes and feedings, plus attended to my needs. 

My mom helped me a lot as well. She went to just about every appointment with me and helped my husband with the baby. My sisters and aunts would take turns coming over to the house to help while my husband was working.

While I was in the hospital for a week after surgery my dad visited me nightly after my husband and baby would leave. He’d stay until I fell asleep. 

This was my tribe and they all stepped up to the plate when I needed them the most. Even at my most vulnerable moments someone was there, and even the times when they didn’t know what to do, they showed up. 

Advice for Family Members of Mesothelioma Patients

You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a village of your tribe to help you through your cancer battle. Here is some advice for those who are caring for a mesothelioma patient.

  • Ask them what they need help with. Family members may do what they think is needed instead of asking the patient.
  • Set boundaries. This goes for patient and caregiver both. It’s vital to set boundaries so no one feels as if they have been taken advantage of.
  • Listen. Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can seem like a lonely road at times and having someone who will listen to us during vulnerable moments is vital.
  • No “Negative Nancys” allowed. If you are that one family member who seems to look at the negative side of things, it might be best to help from afar. Some ways to help include ordering groceries, sending DoorDash, etc.
  • Give them space. No one wants to feel smothered, especially when they are fighting mesothelioma. Look for signs that let you know they need space.

Accept help from your loved ones because going through a cancer battle alone is disheartening. When I look back on my journey, I couldn’t have made it through without God and my family.

paper with magnifying glass
Get Access to Free Resources for Patients & Loved Ones
Free Mesothelioma Resources