Each person’s experience with malignant mesothelioma is unique, but it is certain that once one is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, life is forever altered. Just as each person’s mesothelioma treatment is individualized, so is the coping strategy he or she will develop. Everyone can, however, improve their energy level and promote healthy cell growth by getting adequate rest and relaxation, good nutrition, some exercise and some fun!
Many will want to review their priorities and reduce undesirable activities in light of what is really important in their life. To the extent possible, one must take it one day at a time, avoiding the stress that comes with trying to organize and plan in the face of uncertainty. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following for all cancer patients:
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Share your feelings honestly with family, friends, a spiritual advisor or a counselor
- Keep a journal to help organize your thoughts
- When faced with a difficult decision, list pros and cons for each choice
- Find a source of spiritual strength
- Pray or meditate
- Find time to be alone
- Go for walks
- Remain involved with work and leisure activities to the extent possible
When diagnosed with a rare disease such as malignant mesothelioma, it is easy to slip into thinking that no one else understands. It is normal to grieve when you have lost something-be it health, energy, strength, hair or even hope. You may feel sad, lonely, fearful or angry. These are the times it is most important to resist any temptation to isolate. Talking to someone about your feelings, frustrations and concerns can help.
Sharing with others, especially those similarly diagnosed, can prove a source of strength for both of you. If you have access to the internet, there are “chat rooms” where you can talk to other mesothelioma patients across the globe. You can also find support groups within your community that might meet near your home, or perhaps at the hospital where you are being treated.
Of course, if you are feeling in crisis and think you need to speak with a professional to deal with all of the changes and sudden stress, please tell your nurse.
The physical and psychological strain of malignant mesothelioma can be severe. To top it off, treatments meant to heal often cause unexpected and irritating side effects. It is therefore important to gather as much information as you can about how malignant mesothelioma progresses as a disease, what side effects to expect from the treatment you select and how to minimize them, how you can help your body fight infection, and how you can keep your mind strong.
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