A mesothelioma diagnosis doesn’t just mean changes for the victim. It also means changes for those nearest to him or her.
Spouses, children and others who find themselves caring for a loved one with mesothelioma can make a huge difference. They may not be able to perform a surgery or deliver chemotherapy, but they can help in many other ways. Here are six.
Educate yourself, but don’t go too deep
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) reminds us that the more you know about your loved one’s cancer, the better you can help monitor his or her progress. It helps to recognize the symptoms of the disease as well as the side effects of the treatment.
At the same time, it doesn’t help to dive too deep into your research. You don’t want to depress yourself with statistics, and doing so certainly doesn’t help you provide better care. Instead, you want to balance your attention to the treatment against the larger focus on being attentive to the bigger picture. As your loved one’s caregiver, you want to remain attentive, supportive and positive.
Help with daily routines
Your loved one will have better days and worse days, and you can provide stability by helping with daily routines. These may include helping with medical care such as:
- Delivering medication
- Attending doctor’s appointments
- Communicating with medical providers
- Providing comfort through tough times
Your care may also encompass a host of household chores:
- Buying groceries
- Preparing meals
- Cleaning the house
- Paying bills
- Washing up
Taking care of these matters for your loved one can make daily life feel less overwhelming. It can mean more time to spend with family and enjoying pleasurable activities.
Offer emotional support
Emotional support doesn’t mean relentless optimism. It’s natural for your loved one to become depressed at times, and it’s important for you to understand that. You don’t want to try to force changes in their mood. Instead, you want to be a good, supportive listener. Ask how you can help. Focus on being present and being patient in your communication.
If you become concerned about your loved one’s mental health, it doesn’t help for you to turn your concerns into an argument. You might be better off helping your loved one find another outlet through counseling or other resources.
As you help your loved one with his or her daily routines and medical care, you can benefit from a bit of proactive organization. The work you do to prepare ahead of each day can help you feel less reactive and can introduce a comforting measure of control for both you and your loved one.
In addition to the time you spend on emotional and daily support, you may need to help with other tasks:
- Budgeting and bills
- Coordinating future medical treatment
- Dealing with insurance
- Communicating with other family members
Staying on top of these tasks can ease the burden on your loved one. Knowing you have a plan for dealing with them can ease your stress as well.
Know your limits and take care of yourself
Notably, the experts all remind us that caring for an ailing loved one is a group effort. The cancer diagnosis may be heavy for your loved one, but your work as caregiver can easily overwhelm you, too, if you let it. It’s important for you to find ways to relax and refresh. You may want to develop your own support group, and if you know certain tasks are likely to feel too big or too hard, you can ask others to help you.
Learn about and utilize the available resources
Every cancer diagnosis brings questions. But mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and the answers are often harder to find. No one expects you to know all the answers, but you may be surprised to learn there’s a good chance your doctor doesn’t know them all either.
As you look for more ways to help your loved one, it can help to reach out to a doctor, medical program or attorney that has extensive experience with mesothelioma. These individuals are more likely to stay updated on the available resources.