After receiving your diagnosis, one of the most important conversations you can have with your doctor is about mesothelioma treatment options. Regardless of which option you decide is best for you, you need to begin preparing for mesothelioma treatment. With enough preparation, you can help minimize stress for yourself and your loved ones.
There are a lot of things to consider during this discussion with your doctor: How advanced is your disease? Where do you want to receive treatment? Is your goal to kill off the disease and extend your lifespan or to control pain and stay comfortable?
The first thing you’ll want to do is write down a list of questions about life during the cancer treatment that you’ve chosen. Bring this list to your doctor and make sure that he or she answers all of them.
Here are a few topics that you can touch upon as you begin preparing for mesothelioma treatment.
What are the side effects of treatment?
The major forms of cancer treatment – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy – all have their pros and cons.
Even though surgery physically removes diseased tissue, it’s invasive and can leave you in pain and prone to infection. During the informed consent process with your doctor, be sure to discuss your treatment goal, the risks and alternatives to surgery.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both powerful, but can also harm healthy cells. With chemotherapy, you may experience anemia, changes in memory function, fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal problems. Complications of radiation therapy may be similar and can also include skin burns.
If you know what these side effects are, you’ll know to anticipate them.
How will my daily routine change?
As part of preparing to cope with therapy and side effects, you should talk about lifestyle changes with your medical team. This includes diet, exercise and your work schedule.
If you’re about to undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy, you may have to deal with fatigue and appetite changes. This means that it’s a good idea to increase your calorie and protein intake before beginning treatment. The extra nutrients can help you stay strong. Also, consider asking your doctor about food that’s both nutritious and easy to eat once therapy has begun.
When you’re battling a major disease, exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but scientific evidence shows that physical activity can actually benefit cancer patients. Depending on your case, exercise may help you cope with pain, fatigue or problems with mood. Ask your doctor about what activities are appropriate for you.
Having cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop working, but that’s not to say that your ability to work will be unaffected. It’ll be hard to know what the consequences are until you actually begin treatment, but be sure to plan ahead for the possibility that you may not be able to work for unknown periods of time.
That goes for household work, too. You may have trouble with chores, but if you have family or friends who can help out, don’t be afraid to ask them.
How will my relationships with my loved ones be affected?
Cancer doesn’t just impact you: It also touches the lives of those around you. The key to maintaining healthy relationships is open and honest communication.
If any of you feel that the stress of a cancer diagnosis is too much to handle, remember that you’re not alone. There are many support groups out there that can help you get through the tough times.
Ruth Virata interviews and corresponds with persons who are seeking asbestos legal assistance in her capacity as Intake Supervisor for Kazan Law. She has family members formerly in the military and in construction who have been exposed to asbestos as early as the 1950s.