Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, so learning that you or someone you love may have the disease can come as a shock. While the diagnosis will help make sense of the symptoms, it may also raise a whole host of new questions.
How serious is the disease? What are your treatment options? How will your life change? The list of questions goes on. It may all feel overwhelming, but it often helps to focus on the moment and take one step at a time.
Which steps should you take first? Here are five of them.
Learn more about your diagnosis
As the Mayo Clinic notes, there are multiple forms of mesothelioma. They vary by location, stage and cell type. You will want to learn more about the type of mesothelioma you’re looking at, and you will want to know how far it has spread if it has. This information will help guide your discussions about treatment goals and options.
Discuss your treatment options
The earlier you catch the mesothelioma, the more aggressively you might be able to treat it. However, one of the bigger problems with mesothelioma is that it is rarely diagnosed until the later stages.
In the later stages, your doctor might suggest you focus on slowing its spread and managing the symptoms, rather than trying to eradicate the cancer. But the choice of treatment is yours. You can ask for a second opinion and see whether you might be a good candidate for any treatments being tested in clinical trials.
Commit to a course of treatment
Once you settle on a course of treatment, it is critical that you commit. No one expects you to be upbeat and happy all the time, but it is important for you to take a positive approach toward the treatment. You want to be clear about your goals and responsibilities, as well as the help you’ll need along the way.
Build your support network
A mesothelioma diagnosis can feel alienating, but victims are never truly alone. You can assemble a support network from your family, friends, medical providers, and others on the same journey.
As much as you can look forward to your good days, you are certain to have your down days, too. A strong support network can help you with the tasks you cannot do on your own, encourage your treatment, answer your questions and provide you with insights to help you through your struggles.
Talk to an attorney
As sure as a mesothelioma diagnosis will lead to changes in your daily life, it will lead to expenses you’ll need to cover. The truth is that someone else likely forced those expenses upon you. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and nearly all asbestos exposure traces back to manufacturers and employers who ignored the risks their asbestos posed to the public.
An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Many times, it is not even necessary to file a lawsuit, but the people who caused the mesothelioma should help cover the expenses.