This page has been fact checked by a Doctor of Nursing Practice who specializes in Oncology and has experience working with mesothelioma patients.
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A mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating for both the patient and the people in his or her immediate world. The condition is rare compared to other forms of cancer, and unfortunately, the outlook is grim. Though researchers continue to search for a cure for this challenging disease, the best they can do at this point is extend the lives of many victims of the disease.
Though mesothelioma is a terminal illness, it does not mean there is nothing that can be done. There are a number of ways those who care about the person with mesothelioma can respond and react that will be appreciated. Though it is often difficult to know exactly what to say or do, support and kindness go a long way. Also, the list of things that can make incremental improvements in a cancer patient’s quality of life is long.
Whether the patient has been newly diagnosed or has been struggling for some time, there are things they need. Despite this, it is important to remember that cancer patients often don’t want to ask for help. Therefore, asking them what you can do for them is unlikely to get a satisfactory response. People often feel guilty asking for things because they don’t want to be a burden. Cancer patients also struggle with enough decisions in the course of their illness that it may be exhausting coming up with ways for you to assist them.
It is very helpful to identify the people that are able to go to doctor visits with the patient. Many important topics will be discussed and it can be helpful to have loved ones there. During treatment, they will need several things such as rides to appointments, medical procedures, and treatment sessions. There will be many ups and downs during the treatment course, so being a constant support is invaluable.
What to Give a Cancer Patient
If you are looking for gestures that would be appreciated by a mesothelioma patient or his family, here is a short list to get you started.
- Food: Being diagnosed withe mesothelioma and undergoing treatment will almost certainly change their appetite. Be flexible with expectations and don’t force food on them. Gently offer to bring a variety of foods that they can have on hand to choose from. Encourage healthy well balanced food, but some patients will have certain food cravings. This is normal and everything in moderation is acceptable. Avoid forcing food if they don’t want to eat. If you like to organize, you can set up a meal calendar that others in the community can sign up for. Meal Trail is an example of an organization that helps organize food delivery during times of medical needs.
- Gift Cards: Following the same thought process, giving the family gift cards to local restaurants, or local pharmacies and grocery stores, you help buy essentials. A gift card allows them to purchase things they would enjoy while reducing their financial burden.
- Vacations: Maybe you are a frequent flier who has racked up lots of airline miles. Or maybe you can donate a condo in an appealing resort area. If so, you can help by providing a much needed vacation to the patient and his or her family. A vacation gives the patient and loved ones the opportunity to get away from their cancer treatment. This gesture is extremely considerate and will be very much appreciated.
- Services: There are a number of home services you can provide for the patient and their family. It’s possible family members do not have the time to complete some tasks. Whether it is handyman chores around the house or a cleaning service to do the dusting and vacuuming, providing the family with a service is actually a gift of time. The most valuable thing you can give to a mesothelioma patient and their family is time.
- Subscriptions: Whether to a magazine, Netflix, or Audible.com, purchasing a monthly subscription is extremely inexpensive. However, these can provide unlimited hours of entertainment and distraction. Sometimes distraction is a valuable gift for a mesothelioma patient.
- Transportation: Mesothelioma requires several appointments for doctors visits, chemotherapy, medical tests, radiation, or invasive procedures. Many of those require a ride as they are not able to drive themselves home.
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Anne Courtney, AOCNP, DNP
Anne Courtney has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner. She has years of oncology experience working with patients with malignant mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancer. Dr. Courtney currently works at University of Texas LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes.