Mesothelioma is a rare disease affecting a few thousand Americans each year. It is primarily caused by asbestos exposure and is mostly diagnosed in people in their late 60s or 70s. Asbestos was extensively used in construction during the late 20th century. Therefore, most mesothelioma patients diagnosed today were exposed to asbestos around the end of the 20th century.
Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, fever, fatigue, flu, and more. An experienced oncologist can help devise an appropriate treatment plan for you. Moreover, many alternative treatment options like acupuncture, exercise, physiotherapy, and more are available to help ease the symptoms.
Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed because of its rarity, long latency period, and symptoms similar to other common illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome, emphysema, and other chest and lung diseases. Therefore, it is advised to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist.
Overall, a mesothelioma diagnosis can be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging not only for the patient but also for the caretakers. However, some measures can help make care for a mesothelioma patient easier. While taking care of the patient, remember that it is also crucial to prioritize your health and well-being and manage your mental health.
In this article, we are going to discuss the things you should keep in mind when caring for a mesothelioma patient.
Provide Healthy Nutrition
Nutrition plays a crucial role in the recovery of a mesothelioma patient. It plays a key role in increasing mesothelioma survival rates and overall prognosis.
A healthy diet tailored to the patient’s needs can help alleviate many symptoms like vomiting, constipation, weight loss, and more. Therefore, you should prepare healthy and balanced meals after consulting with their physician. Cook foods that fulfill the physical and emotional needs of the patient.
Moreover, the patient’s nutritional needs can change over time as the disease progresses, so prepare meal plans accordingly. It is ideal to add meals rich in protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates that can help the patient fight off infections and other side effects of the treatment.
Offer Emotional Support
A mesothelioma diagnosis can affect the mental and emotional health of the patient. It is normal to feel sad or scared. However, some people are overwhelmed by negative emotions and take a lot of time to overcome these heavy emotions.
Dealing with these emotions alone can affect the physical health and progress of the treatment. Therefore, you can reach out to a mental health professional to learn the best ways to help the patient cope with the diagnosis. You can encourage them to join a support group to connect with and learn from other people going through a similar situation. Moreover, you as a caregiver can also look for a community and support from the family members of other mesothelioma patients.
Follow Alternative Treatment Options to Reduce Side Effects
The standard treatment options for mesothelioma patients are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. However, there are other treatment options with reduced side effects that you can opt for after talking to an expert.
Immunotherapy drugs have proven to control and shrink tumors and can extend the patient’s life span and ease the side effects of standard treatments like chemotherapy.
If the patient is struggling to deal with the side effects, it is best to consult the physician. Many effective medicines are available that can help prevent nausea, and topical ointments can be utilized to treat skin irritation resulting from radiation therapy.
Focus on Pulmonary Care
Taking care of the pulmonary health of a mesothelioma patient is of utmost importance. As the disease progresses, the patient’s pulmonary symptoms will change rapidly, resulting in breathlessness, coughing, chest pain, and more.
Various medications and pulmonary therapies are available to keep patients comfortable by opening airways to help them breathe easily. Moreover, pain killers can ease the discomfort caused by tumors.
Consider taking the patient to a pulmonary therapist to learn breathing techniques that can help improve lung capacity and function. You can also ask for a referral to a pulmonary therapist from the relevant oncologist.
Help Them Fulfill Unfulfilled Wishes
As a caregiver, the best thing you can do for a mesothelioma patient is to help them get closure. Ask the patient about unfulfilled wishes or take them to a place they’ve always wanted to visit.
Arranging trips and checking off a bucket list can be a lot of work and may require you to put in time, money and effort, not to mention, time off from work. So make sure you have the right help available and can take care of all aspects before making any promises.
The Wrap Up
Mesothelioma is a rare disease with symptoms similar to many other common illnesses. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be mentally and physically taxing for the patient. However, it can also impact the caregiver. Some ways you can better take care of a mesothelioma patient is by providing the patient with nutritious meals, offering emotional support, focusing on providing pulmonary care, and helping them fulfill unfulfilled wishes. Moreover, encourage the patient to follow alternative treatment options to reduce side effects.