Posts Tagged ‘it takes a village’

Danielle DiPietro, National Awareness Director of the Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com, bumped into my blog and then contacted me to ask if I would post a guest blogger. Oh yeah! The goal of Danielle’s organization is to help spread awareness about the symptoms and treatment of a rare kind of cancer called mesothelioma. In addition to general outreach, the team at Asbestos.com works one-to-one with patients and families to help find local doctors, treatment centers, and support groups.

If I learned anything from my experience with breast cancer and cancer treatments with symptoms that were often times more debilitating (though ultimately not more deadly) than the disease itself, I learned the need for the village. I learned that I needed a village to inform me, I wanted a village of choices, and I leaned on a village of hearts and strengths. Danielle and her crew are of the village of cancer experts and caregivers, and I am honored to post their article here:


Coping with Mesothelioma Cancer                                                               

Nobody ever expects to hear the words “You have terminal cancer.”

Unfortunately, more than 3,000 mesothelioma patients in the United States hear these words each year. Mesothelioma is associated with an average prognosis of one year, and even though survivors continue to beat the odds, patients must still cope with the challenging physical and mental stressors of the disease.

Coping on a Physical Level

Even with the most advanced treatments, mesothelioma patients still experience symptoms with a varying degree of severity. The symptoms typically intensify as the cancer progresses.

Some of the symptoms that mesothelioma patients can expect include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

When symptoms begin to interfere with daily life, traditional treatments or alternative therapies can help patients cope. Surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy can help relieve most symptoms. However, these standard therapies can cause their own sets of side effects for patients to endure, including nausea, diarrhea, infection or appetite loss.

Although these issues can often be managed with certain pharmaceuticals, some patients elect gentler alternative therapies to avoid the unwanted aftereffects of standard treatments. Yoga, acupuncture and massage are among the most common alternative therapies used by mesothelioma patients.

Coping on an Emotional Level

In addition to physical side effects, emotional side effects can also arise after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Sadness, anger, depression and anxiety commonly affect newly diagnosed patients as they try to figure out what their futures hold. Managing these feelings can be just as important as managing the physical side effects of the disease.

Joining a support group is one of the most common and effective ways that a mesothelioma patient can process the mental aspects of a terminal cancer diagnosis. These groups are specially designed for cancer patients and their families, and they offer a safe forum for open discussion of any topics related to the post-diagnosis journey. These groups offer low-pressure opportunities for patients to process the fear or frustration they are experiencing.

Meditation is another way that mesothelioma patients can release emotional tension. Simply focusing on something other than the body for as little as a few minutes each day can provide a notable reduction in emotional stress.

Author bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care. In Awe and Gratitude for the Village,



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