Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that spreads within thin layers of tissue surrounding internal organs. Roughly 3,000 cases of this malignancy are diagnosed annually in the US. The majority of these are pleural mesothelioma, which is cancer that affects the lungs. Unfortunately, this condition is lethal. Doctors have yet to discover a cure or treatment that allows patients to live beyond the disease’s average expectancy. Most cases go undetected, and patients only start to show signs after 10 to 50 years.
Regrettably, the mortality rate is relatively high. Though a few years ago, the prognosis was roughly 6 to 12 months. However, with the help of new research, healthcare experts can now help elongate the life span of mesothelioma patients up to 18 to 36 months.
What are the causes of mesothelioma?
This cancer occurs due to asbestos exposure. While the US government has banned several products made with asbestos, some products in the automotive and construction industries still contain small amounts of it. Though this organic fibrous silicate toxic mineral, asbestos, is commonly found in insulation and construction material, shockingly, it is also present in certain consumer goods. Back in the day, roofing, flooring tiles, or attic insulations of homes contained asbestos. Moreover, this carcinogen is also present in gaskets, hood liners, clutches, and brake pads in automobiles.
What’s worse is, this material is also mixed with cement to build homes as it is lightweight and has fire-resistant properties. Here’s where it gets tricky, asbestos is also present in textile products. Shockingly enough, it is a commonly used material for firefighter suits, ropes, and blankets. Mesothelioma spreads in the lungs by breathing asbestos for long periods.
Regrettably, since not many people know about this condition or its causes, they continue to remain blissfully unaware. Therefore, learn more about this condition to live your best life even with this disease. Below is a list of things you should know about living with this condition.
Know about treatment options available
Because this form of cancer is rare, finding a doctor well-versed in mesothelioma’s treatment can be challenging. Therefore, do plenty of research on your own and visit a specialist who has prior experience with the disease. If you feel you may not be able to cover finances independently, reach out to charities or ask your doctor for additional guidance. Some medical experts waver off costs, while others even work alongside organizations that might help cover your bills.
Like any form of terminal cancer, treatment options for mesothelioma solely depend on the individual’s health and the stage at which the condition is detected. Most common treatments recommended to patients include a mixture of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Chemo is a noninvasive method that eliminates cancer-causing cells and shrinks the tumor. Radiation therapy involves killing cancerous cells and preventing their spread. In cases of early mesothelioma detection, surgery can be a good option. There are three types of surgeries available, Cytoreductive Surgery, Pleurectomy and Decortication, and Extrapleural Pneumonectomy. Seek your doctor’s professional advice to determine which option is best for you.
Your profession may predispose you
Mesothelioma is most prevalent among individuals working in the navy, armed forces, or construction industry. These professions work closely with materials that contain potentially dangerous amounts of asbestos. Out of these, people working in the navy have the highest probability of developing this lethal disease.
While your profession may predispose you to develop mesothelioma, not everyone who comes into contact with this toxic mineral gets ill. Genetics plays a massive role in predisposing individuals to developing cancer. However, that is no excuse for negligent behavior on your employer’s part. Therefore, if you feel the need to confront your employer regarding potential risks and flawed safety, go right ahead. In the unfortunate event of developing the condition, your employer might be liable to pay for your treatment. Also, confrontation is necessary to ensure others do not have to suffer the same fate.
Being diagnosed with a lethal disease can make you feel as if someone has shaken the ground beneath your feet, leaving you vulnerable, alone, and depressed. Therefore, healthcare experts often recommend patients attend support groups. These groups can be an ideal outlet to let go of pent-up emotions, express grief, celebrate your highs, and come to terms with the unfortunate reality. Patients are free to speak their minds, build deep connections, and learn from other patients’ experiences. Most of all, support groups can serve as a daily reminder that you are not alone.
Furthermore, often mesothelioma patients start counting the number of days or months they have left to live and stumble deep into depression and sadness. Socializing and interacting with other patients in the group can help individuals keep their chin high, smile more often, and stay positive. This is an excellent recipe for cancer survival. So, stay strong, positive, and remember you are not alone. Make the most of the time you got, and enjoy your life to the best of your possibilities.
Try a holistic approach
A holistic approach might be your express ticket to recovery. This method requires you to take medication and treatment alongside complementary and alternative therapies (CAM). While these are not as powerful as chemo, they can promote wellness, positivity, happiness, alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. These alternative therapies include Reiki, guided meditation, breathing techniques, hypnosis, yoga, qigong, and tai chi.
Mesothelioma patients often suffer from recurring thoughts of death that can trigger anxiety. CAM can help patients shift focus, regain center, and relax. Moreover, patients can also try acupuncture and massage therapy to help relax the body and provide effective pain relief.
Getting diagnosed with a fatal disease can bring down the spirits of even the most happy-go-lucky individuals. However, there is always a one-in-a-million chance you could survive. So fight with all your might, take your medicines and stay positive. Battle against all odds in the hope that you may rise as the undisputed champion that survives mesothelioma.