A mesothelioma diagnosis is shocking. Every patient is different, but the disease currently has no cure and treatment options are intrusive and debilitating. This often leaves patients and their families uncertain as to whether to withdraw from their day-to-day activities and routine or to do everything they can to keep things normal.
Though everyone is different and each patient has their own health concerns and levels of ability, there is increasing anecdotal evidence supporting patients engaged in their work, social, community and family lives.
A recent article in the Financial Times profiled a patient diagnosed with lymphoma whose initial focus on treatment and departure from work life seemed to work against him. Jemil Butt found that not having things to do made him feel worse, and that having things other than hospital appointments on his calendar served to lighten his emotional load.
Whether a mesothelioma patient decides to return to work or not is dependent upon their individual situation – after all, many are not diagnosed until after they have retired. But that doesn’t mean that their lives have stopped entirely. If their medical condition allows it the general consensus is that remaining engaged in life will help them to avoid anxiety and depression.
Patients being treated for cancer have said that having a positive, targeted focus on topics other than cancer keep them motivated and remind them that they are something more than their diagnosis.
Mesothelioma patients who are interested in involvement in work, charity, or other pursuits are advised to first check with their physicians to make sure they understand their own vulnerabilities and how to protect themselves and recognize signs that they need to take it easy.
Easing back in and not attempting to do too much at once is advisable, as fatigue is common. Still, pursuing normalcy can provide a greater sense of community, meaning and purpose, lifting spirits, mood and quality of life.
If you are a mesothelioma patient who would like information on resources available to you, call 1-800-692-8608 and speak to the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net.