How to Stay Independent After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

By January 12, 2017 No Comments

Michelle Whitmer from the Mesothelioma Center, tells us about the cancer Mesothelioma and how it can affect our daily lives…

14 March

Most people with cancer eventually experience health changes that limit personal independence. Changes in health may develop slowly or suddenly, and it’s difficult to cope with either way.

Not having the energy required to make meals and maintain personal hygiene can make someone’s world feel turned upside down. Cancer-related pain and treatment side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, can lead to physical limitations that make patients reliant on others. 

It’s not easy coming to grips with losses of personal independence. Having to rely on others can make cancer patients feel frustrated and saddened by their physical limitations. 

This is something people with mesothelioma often face. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that starts in the lining of the lungs and spreads throughout the chest cavity. As the cancer grows, it causes pulmonary issues, including breathing difficulties, chest pain and coughing.

People with mesothelioma easily become breathless, which severely limits their ability to perform daily tasks around the home, run errands, do chores and exercise.  

Maintaining a sense of independence after a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis is challenging, but it can be done with proper health care, assistance and support.

Help from Family and Friends

A cancer prognosis can make patient’s feel vulnerable, so it’s important for the people around them to be as supportive as possible. A patient’s first circle of support includes their family and friends. Immediate family members serve as the primary caregivers, along with support from extended family and friends.

Having family and friends to offer care helps someone with cancer maintain a sense of familiarity and normalcy in their life.

Spouses most often help with dressing, toileting and personal hygiene. Other family members help out around the house, run errands and give transportation to medical appointments.

Sometimes neighbors and community members are available to help, which may include members of a church or local nonprofit organization. They may offer to make and drop off meals, mow the lawn or do other domestic chores.

If you’re a caregiver, friend or neighbor, come up with a list of options and ask the person living with cancer what kind of help they prefer. Giving them a choice as often as possible helps support their independence.

Professional Health Care At Home

Some mesothelioma patients may require more complex nursing care while undergoing different cancer treatments. Receiving this care at home rather than at a doctor’s office, hospital or cancer center can offer increased independence and save the patient time and stress.

For example, certain patients have a pleural catheter tube in their chest that drains pleural fluid from around the lungs. For these patients, a trained nurse will come to the patient’s home several times a week to drain pleural fluid and make sure the area around the chest tube isn’t showing signs of infection.

Other home health care services offer help with a range of needs, such as light house chores, cleaning and shopping for food or supplies, dressing, toileting and maintaining personal hygiene. More complex care at home is often available to people recovering from surgery or maintain medical equipment.  

Family and friends can help their loved one with cancer by strategizing personalized ways to maintain autonomy and independence. Often, reaching out for local and professional help frees up time and energy for the patient and family to take care of themselves and spend more quality time together. 

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