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Being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma can feel like a terrible blow. The stress of diagnosis and treatment options can be overwhelming. So can fear of what the future holds. All too often, people with malignant mesothelioma overlook a crucial aspect of their personal well-being, their emotional health.
Emotional well-being is crucial for people with mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma has a far-reaching effect on those who are diagnosed. However, suffering isn’t limited to the lining of the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity where the cancer cells reside. Mesothelioma also takes a hefty emotional toll on both those diagnosed and those who care about them. This emotional toll adds more misery where no more is needed. Therefore, it is vital to maintain emotional balance during this difficult time.
Therapy and support groups have tangible benefits
Mesothelioma patients who take time to nurture their emotional health through therapy or support groups report a better quality of life. Therapy and support groups provide a safe place to vent fears and frustrations. A support group also provides people who understand what you are going through and can offer feedback or a fresh perspective.
Support groups can also provide an outlet for a patients’ family members and friends. Family members and friends often find comfort in sharing their troubles and concerns with others who can empathize.
The psychological pressures of a mesothelioma diagnosis
A mesothelioma diagnosis brings negative psychological reactions. These reactions include fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and more. Patients often blame themselves for other people’s feelings about their diagnosis. They may try to appear brave around friends and relatives in order to ease their fears. However, suppressing emotions can increase stress, raise cortisol levels, raise blood pressure and suppress the immune system. Therefore it for the health of a cancer patient to express emotions, even when those emotions are negative.
It’s OK to feel vulnerable
You are not a rock and that is OK. It is OK to feel vulnerable when facing a serious health problem like mesothelioma. It is also OK to be concerned, worried, sad, and even angry. No one thinks you are made of stone, so there is no need to keep tumultuous feelings stuffed inside.
It’s OK not to have all the answers
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you probably have many questions about your health and the future. However, you may have few answers. People in your life may have questions too, questions you can’t answer. It is OK to not have all the answers. Uncertainty is normal under these circumstances.
It’s OK to set limits
People who care about you may want to spend as much time with you as possible. However, it is totally acceptable for you to tell them you need to rest or be alone. It is important to set limits even with the people you love. Be sure to set limits with yourself, too. Don’t push yourself too far. You need a break sometimes, and that is OK.
It’s OK to reach out for help
If you feel lost and alone, help is out there. Connecting with a therapist or counselor can help you come to terms with a mesothelioma diagnosis. Reaching out to peers in a mesothelioma support group improves emotional wellness. Those people are going through the same thing, and hearing your inner concerns echoed by others can help you feel less alone.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate 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.