In the United States, veterans represent a disproportionate share of all diagnosed cases of malignant mesothelioma, and the same is true in the United Kingdom. Both countries have dedicated significant resources and efforts to finding a cure for the rare, asbestos-related disease, and to providing special benefits for those who served. The UK has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world, and researchers there have recently completed an investigation of the special needs and experiences of veterans with the terminal disease.
Qualitative Study Includes Military Mesothelioma Victims and Their Families
The study is known as MiMES, which stands for Military Mesothelioma Experience Study. Its participants included both mesothelioma victims and family members of veterans with the disease, each of whom engaged in interviews on the themes of exposure to asbestos and awareness of asbestos-related diseases; taking advantage of military resources and strategies to deal with the disease; and preferences for where to get support and information.
The 13 mesothelioma victims and 9 family members who the study authors spoke to provided invaluable information and feedback. Nearly all the veterans believed that their asbestos exposure occurred during their years of service, and also indicated that they had not been made aware of its dangers until years later. Most heard about the risks after friends had been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. The more they’d learned, the less surprised they were when their own diagnosis came. The study authors wrote, “For many MiMES participants, their reaction to the mesothelioma diagnosis was more of resignation than shock.”
UK Mesothelioma Veterans Favor Support from Military Peers
Writing in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing, the study authors pointed to the many challenges posed by mesothelioma, including “life limiting and debilitating symptoms including breathlessness, pain, cough, lethargy, weight loss and sweating … psychological impacts, including depression, anxiety, low mood.” They report that in terms of obtaining information, “a significant emphasis was placed on participants’ fellow members of the military, even those they did not serve with; shared history and humor were important components here.”
Mesothelioma places a significant burden on those who have the disease, as well as on those who love them. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this rare, fatal form of cancer, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.