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Emotional Health and Coping with Mesothelioma

When you are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the news can come as a terrible blow. The stress of diagnosis and treatment options can be overwhelming, and so can the fear for the future. All too often, people with malignant mesothelioma overlook a crucial aspect of their personal well-being: emotional health.

Emotional well-being is crucial for people with mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma has a far-reaching effect on those who are diagnosed with it. However, the suffering isn’t limited to the lining of the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity where the cancer cells reside—mesothelioma takes a hefty emotional toll, as well, both on those who are diagnosed with it and those who care about them. This emotional toll only serves to add more misery where none is needed—so seeking out ways to stay emotionally balanced during this difficult time is of paramount importance.

Therapy and support groups can have tangible benefits

Studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma who take time to nurture their emotional health by seeking out therapy or joining support groups report a better quality of life after beginning therapy or attending group meetings. By having a place to vent your fears and frustrations, and having someone to listen to you who understands what you are going through and can offer feedback and a fresh perspective, you can open up your soul and let the negativity that meso brought with it come out while allowing the positivity of therapeutic interaction to come in.

Support groups are also a great option for the family members and friends of those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, as their concerns and anxieties may also need an outlet—and people often find comfort in sharing their troubles with people who can empathize, because they have been there, too.

The psychological pressures of a mesothelioma diagnosis

A mesothelioma diagnosis can incite all sorts of negative psychological reactions: fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and more. There is also often a feeling of responsibility for the feelings of others that arises post-diagnosis, as the person with mesothelioma may feel the need to “put on a brave face” around friends and relatives in order to ease their fears. This creates a “bottling up” of feelings that can have a further impact on overall health, as studies have shown that the increased stress levels associated with “keeping it all inside” can increase the levels of cortisol in the blood, leading to increased blood pressure and decreased immune response.

It’s okay to feel vulnerable

What you need to know is this: you are not a rock, and it’s okay. It is okay to feel vulnerable when facing a serious health problem like mesothelioma, and it’s okay to feel concerned, worried, sad and even angry. You are not expected to behave like you are made of stone, and you are not expected to keep all of the tumultuous feelings you may be experiencing under wraps.

It’s okay to not have all the answers

If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you probably have a host of questions about your health and what the future holds for you—and you may also find that you have few answers to these questions. In the same vein, the people in your life may have questions of their own that you don’t know how to respond to. It’s important for you to know that it’s okay to not have all the answers, and uncertainty is normal under these circumstances.

It’s okay to set limits

If your cancer leaves you feeling extremely fatigued and you sometimes feel like you just need to rest, but the people who care about you are keen on spending as much time by your side as possible, it’s okay to tell them that you need some alone time. Also, don’t neglect to set limits with yourself—if you have a tendency to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and cause yourself physical and emotional strain by stretching yourself too thin, set limits for you. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need a break sometimes, and definitely don’t be afraid to take that break.

It’s okay to reach out for help

If you feel lost and alone, there are people out there who you can reach out to. Connecting with a therapist or counselor can be very rewarding for people who are struggling to come to terms with their mesothelioma diagnosis. Also, reaching out to peers in a mesothelioma support group can be beneficial to maintaining emotional wellness—because interacting with people who are going through the same thing and hearing your inner concerns echoed in the voices of others can help to get rid of that feeling of aloneness, and foster solidarity and even forge new friendships.

Page edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.

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