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Emotional and Physical Wellness – Living with Mesothelioma

Wellness is not simply the absence of disease. It is also a state of physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being. While it may seem contradictory for those with mesothelioma, patients can achieve wellness. Wellness is something to strive for, and many alternative practices and medical treatments can help get you there.

Improving wellness means much more than receiving the proper treatment for mesothelioma. Wellness also involves taking steps to relieve stress and anxiety, getting social support from friends and family, and considering treatments and practices that will help you feel as physically well as possible.

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Mesothelioma and Mental Health

Mental and emotional health suffer during a serious physical illness like mesothelioma. The diagnosis itself can cause depression, anxiety, and fear. Choosing treatment options, dealing with your own mortality, and making end-of-life decisions are stressful. Physical discomfort caused by cancer and its treatments can also take a mental and emotional toll.

Mesothelioma triggers negative feelings in most patients at some point. However, some patients some will experience symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders. These should not be ignored, but rather treated with therapy, medications, or alternative therapies like meditation, massage, and support group work. Living with mesothelioma does not mean living with poor mental health. Your medical team needs to know your specific emotional struggles so they can help you improve your mental and emotional wellness.

Fitness and Nutrition

It can be tempting to disregard nutrition and physical fitness to focus on cancer treatments. However, when you live with an illness, paying attention to your lifestyle choices can make a big difference overall wellness. Patients who eat a balanced, healthy diet and get some degree of physical activity are in better overall health. This will allow them to better tolerate treatment and could lead to better treatment outcomes.

A dietitian or nutritionist can help you plan a diet that works around treatment side effects like nausea. A physical therapist can help find safe and appropriate strength training or cardio. Beginner or restorative yoga classes are also good options for physical fitness.

Alternative Therapies

Mesothelioma patients can choose from many complementary and alternative (CAM) treatments. While alternative medicine is not a substitute for traditional cancer treatment for, many methods are proven to help patients feel better. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical treatment clinically proven to reduce pain, nausea, and fatigue in cancer patients. Other important alternative therapies include reiki and oncology massage.

Palliative Care and Physical Comfort

Simply feeling well can be difficult when you are living with mesothelioma, but it isn’t impossible. In the past, cancer treatment focused solely on shrinking and eliminating tumors. However, modern medical practitioners understand the importance of palliative care. Palliative care is not aimed at the cancer specifically, but rather targets the symptoms and side effects to help patients feel better.

Palliative care takes many forms and helps patients with all stages of mesothelioma. It could include traditional medicine, like medication to manage pain or radiation to shrink tumors causing discomfort. However, palliative care could also include complementary and alternative medicine to boost energy, improve sleep, increase mobility, and boost overall quality of life. Palliative care may also include social, emotional, and spiritual support.

Social Support

Social health is also an important part of wellness.  Humans are naturally social creatures. However, when you become sick you may find your social life changes in troubling ways. When dealing with a devastating illness like mesothelioma, you may not be able to go to work or spend time with friends. Having the support of even a handful of people is crucial for your overall wellness.

Loved ones who are not fighting cancer cannot give all the social support you need. Many cancer patients find help in support groups with other cancer patients. These groups help by allowing sharing and learning from others who understand what you are going through.  This kind of support can add spirit and optimism to a patient’s life despite their battle with cancer.

Faith and Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is also an important component of overall wellness. Many cancer patients struggle with faith and spirituality. However, those who can address their faith reap many benefits. You do not necessarily need organized religion to meet your spiritual needs. Any approach to spirituality or belief in a higher power has proven to give cancer patients wellness benefits. These benefits include better physical and mental health, better social support, and even longer survival times.

Wellness and mesothelioma may not seem to go hand in hand. However, it is not impossible to focus on healing from cancer and achieving wellness at the same time. By making better choices about mental health, physical health, nutrition, fitness, socialization, spirituality, and alternative therapies, you can improve your quality of life. Wellness is a choice, and it means making active decisions to pursue wellness, even when facing such a devastating disease like mesothelioma.

Page Edited by Dave Foster

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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. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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