5 Steps to Take After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Nicole Winch | August 18, 2020
A mesothelioma diagnosis can turn your world upside-down. A cancer diagnosis not only affects you but can affect the people closest to you.
If you’ve recently learned that you have mesothelioma, you likely have many unanswered questions:
- What are my next steps?
- How can I afford treatment?
- How will this impact my family?
With dozens of concerns running through your head, it may be hard to cope with your diagnosis.
Fortunately, there are a few goals you can set — tasks you can accomplish within hours or days — to give you more power in battling your cancer.
1. Learn More About Mesothelioma
Understand what mesothelioma is and how it affects your health. This is an important first step, as it gives you knowledge to fight your diagnosis. While most patients know that asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, they might not know much more about their disease.
There are three main types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. Pleural and peritoneal are the most common, accounting for up to 99% of cases.
Peritoneal mesothelioma makes up approximately 20%, while pleural makes up about 80% of all cases. Other forms of mesothelioma, such as pericardial, are rare and usually account to no more than 1% of diagnosed cases in the United States.
There’s a lot more about mesothelioma that you should know. Your doctor can answer any questions you might have and even refer you to a mesothelioma specialist.
2. Seek a Second Opinion from a Mesothelioma Specialist
Oftentimes, your local hospital or medical facility won’t have a mesothelioma specialist. Most don’t have a protocol for treating this cancer, nor do they have the experience to accurately diagnose it: for cell type, stage and prognosis.
There is no harm in getting a second opinion after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Since mesothelioma is so rare, there are only a few oncologists and surgeons who specialize in managing and treating this disease.
Your current doctor should be more than willing to consult with a specialist — or refer you to a specialist — if they lack expertise in treating mesothelioma. Communication with your trusted local doctor is vital to improving your prognosis, and sometimes communication requires asking for a second opinion.
3. Find a Support Network
A mesothelioma diagnosis can definitely take a toll on your mental health. Having a strong support network of family and friends is important during your cancer journey.
You should never feel like you’re alone. When you can’t rely on family for support, turn to an oncology social worker who can provide you with local and national resources to help manage your disease.
A cancer support group is also another popular option, for both newly diagnosed patients and people who’ve had mesothelioma for some time. Since mesothelioma is so rare, your cancer center may not have a group specifically for your disease. In this case, there are online mesothelioma support groups to choose from. This allows you to connect and talk with people who are in similar positions to you.
4. Prepare for Your Mesothelioma Treatment
Keep your body strong before, during and after mesothelioma treatment. A healthy diet and exercise can have many positive effects.
There are various medical therapies when it comes to treating mesothelioma. You may undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiation — or a combination. However, they each bring side effects and the potential for complications.
Since each case is unique, your doctor will gauge your overall health and ability to handle each treatment. If you’re living a healthy lifestyle, you have a greater chance of withstanding any side effects and benefiting from treatment.
Regardless of your treatment plan, good nutrition can strengthen and heal your body. A dietician can provide great insight into maintaining immunity throughout your treatment.
5. Learn About Your Legal Options
As a victim of mesothelioma, you have a variety of financial and legal options. While your main focus should be getting rid of your disease, you and your family deserve justice for your asbestos exposure.
The lawyers at BCBH Law have years of experience working with people just like you: people diagnosed with a cancer they didn’t deserve. We have the resources and skills to get you and your family some much-needed financial aid.
You can use this compensation to pay for medical costs, lost wages and other unforeseen expenses. Families have been able to successfully overcome some of these financial struggles or set up funds for their grandchildren.