Friday, May 18, 2012
The following is a guest post from Mesothelioma Center at www.abestos.com
The Relationship between a Mesothelioma Patient and Caregiver
When dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis, many people turn to family and friends to create a strong support network. It's important for cancer battlers to be able to rely on people they can trust, people who can help them cope during a difficult time.
Being diagnosed with a preventable cancer – caused primarily by exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers – can definitely be devastating.
The cancer is extremely rare – diagnosed in less than 3,000 Americans each year – but it is very aggressive as it damages the mesothelium and then spreads across the body. The symptoms it causes can be disabling. Patients must learn to cope with chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing and persistent fatigue.
Because the symptoms of mesothelioma are more severe as the disease progresses, some patients find that it is difficult to take care of all of their everyday responsibilities. In addition to the cancer itself, aggressive mesothelioma treatments – radiation therapy and chemotherapy – can make it tougher for patients to live their lives the way they are used to living them.
Energy levels change. Physical abilities change.
And this is why people turn to their caregiver – for help even with small things.
The relationship each mesothelioma patient has with a caretaker can vary greatly from person to person. It's quite common for people not to want to ask for help. Some people only feel comfortable asking for help from a close friend or a family member – a spouse or a brother or sister.
Others are happy to accept any support that is offered to them.
Regardless, developing a close relationship a caretakers and asking for that caregiver's emotional support during a cancer journey is the holistic goal. Some mesothelioma patients may only desire basic physical support – help with chores, travel assistance to and from the doctor, for instance.
The relationship a person develops with a caretaker will depend on the personal level of the people involved. That makes it important for patients to consider carefully whom they choose to be their caregiver.
What Kind of Care Might a Mesothelioma Patient Request From Their Caregiver?
The relationship between a mesothelioma patient and a caretaker may also change over time. A patient's needs will grow if the cancer progresses. The things that a mesothelioma caregiver can do to help their loved one will increase over time.
Early stage patients whose symptoms are not severe may only need occasional assistance with errands or strenuous activities like yard work. Caregivers can volunteer to come to the patient’s house a few hours out of their day to help with these basic things.
Later stage patients whose shortness of breath and exhaustion – side effects of both the cancer and of treatments – make it difficult to move around may ask for help with cooking, cleaning or getting dressed.
Caregivers for these patients may be in for a bigger time commitment – large portions of their day may be spent taking patients to appointments at a leading care center such as the Vancouver Cancer Center or Toronto Western Hospital, helping the patient dress or eat, or even helping the patient move about the house.
Although many cancer patients feel that asking a loved one to provide care means that they are weak, that is not the case.
Caregivers can also help patients feel more secure in asking for help by reminding them that accepting help ultimately gives them more energy to focus on treatment and rest.
Patients and caregivers can find additional support during this difficult time by joining a mesothelioma network such as the Canadian Mesothelioma FoundationHere you can connect with other patients and caregivers to learn more about how to cope with your cancer diagnosis.
Author Bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.