Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can send patients and their loved ones into a state of shock. It can feel difficult to move out of this state and into action, but a strong support system can help.
- Emotional support
- Transportation and lodging support
- Legal and financial support
- Caregiver support
Those needing help building a support system should work with a patient advocate or social worker. These professionals can help you develop a team of friends, family, neighbors and community members to support you through mesothelioma treatment and recovery.
Emotional Support for Patients and Loved Ones
Emotional support is essential to nurture the mental health of people affected by mesothelioma.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 25 percent of cancer survivors experience symptoms of depression and 45 percent experience anxiety. Around 20 percent report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loved ones may experience anticipatory grief or delayed grief. Anticipatory grief may start immediately after the diagnosis, whereas delayed grief may develop months or years after a loved one dies.
Patients and their loved ones benefit when they seek forms of emotional support such as counseling and support groups. Additionally, gentle exercise can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Counseling from a mental health therapist or social worker helps people face challenges and process heavy emotions. It is available one-on-one in addition to family and group counseling.
Some therapists specialize in grief counseling, which aims to support people as they move through the grieving process. This kind of counseling helps people accept great loss, process difficult feelings and move forward with healthy coping skills.
Another type of counseling that comforts many people is spiritual counseling. It is available through local religious establishments, including churches and temples, and in hospitals through chaplains. Hospice also offers spiritual counseling.
Mesothelioma Support Groups
Support groups offer a space for people going through similar struggles to find support, mesothelioma resources and encouragement.
Because mesothelioma is a rare cancer, it can be hard for patients and their caregivers to find an in-person mesothelioma support group. Thankfully, online support groups for mesothelioma are available for patients, caregivers and loved ones.
Regular gentle exercise improves mood and lessens symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Patients and their loved ones can encourage and support each other by exercising together. Consistency is the key to seeing benefits. You don’t have to spend a lot of time exercising and it doesn’t need to be hard or challenging to make an impact.
Taking a short walk a few days a week is enough to see benefits. You can consider all forms of movement as exercise such as doing chores around the house.
Mesothelioma Caregiver Support
The challenges of being a mesothelioma caregiver can sometimes be overwhelming due to the nature of the illness.
Caregiving for a loved one with mesothelioma isn’t easy to do alone. It requires a lot of support from family, friends, neighbors and community members.
Mesothelioma caregivers face unique problems that those caring for someone with a less serious illness don’t often encounter. As the cancer progresses, mesothelioma caregiver duties tend to increase, which may lead to caregiver burnout if a good plan isn’t in place.
- Reaching out to health and human services departments in your state and county to inquire about local caregiver programs.
- Asking the patient’s oncologist for a referral to a social worker and mental health therapist. These professionals can help you access local resources and process stress.
- Looking into the cost of hiring a professional caregiver so you can take breaks.
- Asking a friend or family member to help you coordinate medical care, household chores and run errands.
- Accepting support when people offer it.
Transportation and Lodging Support for Mesothelioma Patients
Many people with mesothelioma need help affording transportation and lodging to access specialized care.
Only certain cancer centers throughout the U.S. have the equipment and expertise to treat this rare cancer. That means many patients travel far distances to get high-quality care.
- Reach out to churches, elder care organizations and community transportation programs to see what kind of transportation options are available where your loved one will receive treatment.
- Certain organizations, such as Patient AirLift Services and Angel Flight, arrange free air transportation for cancer patients. Medicaid offers travel assistance benefits to members who have full or basic coverage.
- Discounts for lodging may be available through certain cancer centers and organizations such as Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Financial and Legal Support for Mesothelioma
Many mesothelioma patients seek financial support to pay for cancer treatment. They also seek legal support to make end-of-life decisions and understand their options for compensation.
People with mesothelioma may consider financial assistance in the form of Social Security disability benefits, VA benefits, long-term disability insurance, travel grants, treatment grants, trust funds, settlements and trial verdicts.
Lawyers who specialize in different areas of law can counsel patients on their legal options. For example, estate attorneys help families with end-of-life decisions and drafting wills, while qualified mesothelioma lawyers help families access asbestos trust funds and file claims for compensation.