Webinar Recap: Mental Health and Mesothelioma

Health & Wellness

The Mesothelioma Center’s most recent webinar featured Dana Nolan, MS, LMHC, a mental health counselor, and 2 mesothelioma survivors. Together, they discussed effective strategies for managing mental health. 

Our panel of survivors included Tamron Little, a 17-year peritoneal mesothelioma survivor, and pleural mesothelioma survivor Michael Cole who has undergone surgery, radiation and immunotherapy. The panelists delved into topics such as everyday mental health struggles, successful coping mechanisms and personal experiences. 

Following a cancer diagnosis, many individuals experience heightened stress. Challenges of living with malignant mesothelioma can worsen anxiety. This webinar aimed to provide insights into managing these mental health challenges and help patients and their families improve their overall quality of life.

Primary Mental Health Diagnoses

During the webinar, attendees gained valuable insights into common mental health concerns for mesothelioma patients, early signs, management strategies and helpful resources. Dana provided an overview of the primary mental health diagnoses for mesothelioma patients.

Common Diagnoses for Mesothelioma Patients
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • PTSD

Survivors Tamron Little and Michael Cole shared their journeys, offering unique perspectives on overcoming mental health obstacles. Dana provided expert guidance on coping with the emotional toll of the disease.


“The list of symptoms is huge,” Dana said regarding anxiety in patients with mesothelioma. “It’s different for everybody, but some common factors are fear of the unknown and physical symptoms, such as jitteriness or agitation. It can also affect our ability to pay attention to or remember things.” 

Research indicates up to 75% of cancer survivors experience symptoms of psychological distress. This underscores the importance of addressing mental health concerns in mesothelioma care.

“Sometimes, when we worry and fear, it’s important to explore what’s underneath it,” Dana noted. “Calming and coping strategies are great, but sometimes things are coming up because they say, ‘Hey, pay attention to me.’ If your plate feels full of stressful things, it’s okay to clean it up a little bit.” 


During the webinar, Tamron shared that she experienced depression. But she recalled depression didn’t manifest how she expected. 

“You think from seeing movies and commercials that if you’re depressed, then you’re down in the dumps,” she said. “But you can still be high functioning and still be depressed,” said Tamron. 

Dana noted depression can be harder to spot than other mental health conditions in mesothelioma patients. She explained that where, for example, anxiety’s symptoms add noticeable new symptoms, depression can present as a loss of other feelings.

“A lot of depressive symptoms are the absence of things,” Dana explained. “It’s a lack of appetite or energy. You’re not sleeping as well. It’s hopelessness. It’s helplessness. It’s a lack of social interaction.”


“Grief is a normal human experience when we’re feeling the loss of something. A lot of the symptoms can feel like they’re overlapping with depression,” said Dana. 

Michael added, “When I got my diagnosis, certainly there was this shock, but where I noticed it was in the people around me.”

“The reality is that when someone’s sick for some time, by the time they pass away, it seems that their family and friends, to a large degree, have already gone through the grieving process,” Michael said. “But in the case where we don’t die, they’re going through the process anyway.”


“Post-traumatic stress disorder is under the umbrella of anxiety disorders with a set of symptoms that can be pretty subjective,” Dana noted. “A lot of people say they can remember exactly where they were and what words were used when the doctor gave them a mesothelioma diagnosis.” 

“The symptoms are feeling flooded with emotion and wanting to avoid situations that felt traumatic or remind you of a traumatic situation,” Dana added.

Experts Sean Marchese and Dana Nolan help Mesothelioma Patients and their Families with Mental Health Support
Expert Q&A: Mesothelioma & Mental Health

Receive a recording of our webinar where experts share techniques for managing your mental health after a mesothelioma diagnosis from two long-term survivors and a mental health counselor.

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Mental Health Resources for Mesothelioma Patients

There are a number of mental health resources available for mesothelioma patients. Dana, for example, leads the monthly mesothelioma support group at The Mesothelioma Center and offers individual and family counseling.

Available Mental Health Resources
  • Medication Management
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Patient Advocates
  • Support Groups

The live Q&A session during the webinar allowed participants to engage directly with the panelists, seeking personalized advice and clarification on mental health topics relevant to mesothelioma. Those who missed the opportunity to join the live webinar can still register with a Patient Advocate to receive a recording of the event.

Robust mental health support is essential for navigating the challenges of cancer and maintaining overall well-being. It’s key for mesothelioma patients, caregivers and loved ones alike. 

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