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Mesothelioma doesn’t get much attention in the news, but approximately 3,500 people are diagnosed with this rare and challenging form of cancer every year.  Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, and because it has a long latency period it is often in an advanced stage by the time it is identified. Though this disease is always considered fatal, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are available to help victims improve their quality of life and live longer. Unfortunately, these come with well known side effects such as nausea, hair loss, and fatigue. For patients who are already suffering, these side effects can seem like an unnecessary additional burden, and many are tempted to opt out of treatment rather than face the continued suffering. The good news is that you don’t have to stop treatment to minimize its effects – there are some things you can do to help yourself. Whether you are a mesothelioma patient yourself or a friend or family member, here are some tips for coping with the side effects of treatment.

  • Nausea – Nausea is probably one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, and knowledge of that fact may be contributing to the problem. A study conducted in 2004 indicated that the patients who had the highest expectations of throwing up and constantly feeling sick were the ones who had the worst symptoms, while those who were told that their chemotherapy was of a type that did not experience nausea had far fewer symptoms. Though nobody is suggesting that the nausea that is experienced from chemotherapy is “all in your head”, the study’s conclusion does suggest that a positive attitude can make a significant different.
  • Fatigue – Much of the fatigue that comes with radiation and chemotherapy are caused by anemia. The best counter is to eat a healthy diet and try to get some exercise. Though many think it is counterintuitive to try to increase activity when feeling exhausted, studies have shown that light to moderate exercise actually provides greater energy. It also provides a better quality sleep, whether you are going to bed for the night or grabbing some rest in the form of a nap. Another option is to speak to your physician about an antidepressant, as studies have shown that one of the SSRI drugs can counter feelings of chemotherapy-induced fatigue.
  • Hair loss – New technologies in the form of cooling caps have shown some success for those undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and many mesothelioma drugs are now targeting cancer cells without having as big an impact on hair loss as was once true.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are available to provide many more coping options and answers. Call us today at  1-800-692-8608.

Author: Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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