Reaching Out to Your Loved One Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, more than likely there are hundreds of questions running through their mind such as, “What does this mean?” “What will happen next?” “What kind of treatment will I need?” The most burning question, however, is usually “How will my family and I get through this?” The patient and his or her family are faced with months of chemotherapy treatments, weekly doctor’s appointments, management of bills, and much more, and it can all quickly become overwhelming. As a friend or family member, knowing when and how to step in to offer comfort and support can help your loved one more than you may ever know.
According to a New York Times article by Bruce Feiler, author and cancer survivor, there are four primary things to say and do for a friend that is sick, and is spending his or her days battling a disease, that can ease some of the stress, or simply help them get their mind off their illness.
- Don’t write me back. While patients want to keep their friends and family apprised of their condition, the burden of writing and emailing everyone individually can be challenging. Anytime you can pass information on to others is a help to them and their friends. Also, feel free to write a note just to check in, but specifically saying, “don’t write me back,” allows the person to enjoy the note without having another to-do.
- I should be going now. Visits are always nice, but keep in mind that the person you’re visiting is sick and, is more than likely, tired and suffering from pain and discomfort. Limit your visit to no more than 20 minutes, and while you’re there consider doing some chore for them such as tidying up the room or taking out the trash.
- Would you like some gossip? Talking about anyone other than themselves or their illness will help make patients feel comfortable and more a part of the “outside” world. Talk about movies, the news, sports or your family to allow them to find out what else is going on and enjoy some light conversation for a while.
- I love you. Or some other heartfelt sentiment can go a long way in letting the patient know that you care about them and what they are going through. Feiler says, “simple, direct emotion is the most powerful gift you can give a loved one going through pain.” He suggests statements such as, “I’m sorry you have to go through this,” “I hate to see you suffer,” “You mean a lot to me.” He adds that since so few people articulate these sentiments it makes it that much more meaningful.
While many factors determine survival for a mesothelioma patient, such as treatment plan, age, overall health and fitness of the patient and the extent of the disease, physicians also believe that a positive outlook and affirming thoughts can result in the improvement in a patient’s health. If someone you know is battling mesothelioma, offering them some words of encouragement or a small act of kindness can sometimes make them feel better than any of the medicines they are taking.
Label: For Your Family