Everyone understands that a mesothelioma diagnosis is going to mean some big changes for the person who receives it. However, the victim isn’t the only one whose life will change. It takes a lot of work to help care for someone with a cancer as aggressive as mesothelioma. And this means that family members, sometimes adult children, often take on the role of caregiver.
In many ways, caregivers act like an extension of the patient’s treatment team. But their work doesn’t end with medical attention. Nor do they want it to. Caregivers also offer help around the home. As family, they also provide something the doctors can’t—an invaluable measure of love and emotional support.
Caregivers and medical treatment
As the American Cancer Society notes, cancer victims can sometimes feel overwhelmed. They may struggle to deal with household chores, and they may sometimes struggle with simpler task like choosing clothes to wear or meals to eat. At the same time, their treatment plans may be quite involved, so it’s important for caregivers to remain involved and encouraging.
Caregivers commonly help with many different aspects of treatment:
- Understanding the diagnosis, prognosis and intended treatment
- Tracking and administering medications
- Scheduling appointments
- Arranging transportation to appointments
- Noting progress, symptoms and side effects
- Asking questions about medical decisions
- Advocating for the patient’s goals and wishes
It’s obvious that caregivers also provide emotional support, and we’ll address that point again. However, it’s also important to note that treatment works best when the patients are “all in.” It’s important to remain committed. Caregivers often offer important encouragement and support when patients might otherwise falter.
Caregivers and household tasks
Although you might expect mesothelioma victims to dress themselves and choose their meals most days, it’s likely they’ll need a great deal of help around the home:
- Grocery shopping
- Meal preparation
- Washing and folding clothes
- Yard work
- Paying bills
- Pursuing financial assistance
There are many forms of financial compensation available to mesothelioma victims. However, it often takes a great deal of work and patience to access them. Dealing with health insurance is rarely fun for anyone. Asbestos bankruptcy trusts and lawsuits are commonly options, as well, but those tend to require work not only on the caregiver’s part, but also the assistance of a lawyer experienced with mesothelioma cases.
Caregivers and emotional support
Last, but certainly not least, caregivers provide emotional and spiritual support. Mesothelioma patients will have both their good and bad days, but no one enjoys being limited by their health. As a caregiver, you want to try to remain positive. You have to accept that your loved one is going to have bad days and moments of negativity. However, you want to remain stable and available.
This can be challenging, especially for children who find themselves now caring for parents who used to be their emotional anchors. Accordingly, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) offers some helpful tips for caregivers:
- Plan and prioritize tasks to minimize stress and burn-out
- Be a good listener and communicate when the time is right
- Spend time enjoying shared activities such as walking, reading or watching shows
- If possible, divide caregiving responsibilities between other friends and family members
- Mind your limits
Like nearly every other authority, ASCO notes that caregivers can easily burn out if they don’t pay attention to their own limits. You need to take time for yourself, release your stress and refuel, or you won’t be able to provide your best support.
Caregivers show love
No one wants to watch their parents suffer. However, mesothelioma caregivers have the chance to show their love in deeply meaningful ways. As a result, and in spite of the circumstances, many caregivers have noted that they have seen their relationships mature and deepen. Hopefully, your time as a caregiver can prove valuable to you. There’s no doubt that it will make a world of difference for your parent.