Four “Musts” When Living With Mesothelioma: Advocate for Yourself

June 10, 2014 - Living with the fear and uncertainty of mesothelioma is very stressful. Taking charge of your self care and managing your professional care is one way to empower yourself, which can reduce your fear and discomfort. Here are three suggestions from the American Cancer Society that might help you advocate for yourself. 1. Follow through on professional healthcare treatments Whatever your mesothelioma treatments, follow-up care will be necessary. Follow-up care usually involves regular doctor visits. When you're feeling tired or ill, you may be tempted to cancel or simply not show up to these follow-up care visits. It's important not to succumb to this temptation. Go to all of your scheduled medical appointments. During your appointments, answer questions thoroughly to help ensure that your doctor can prescribe effective ongoing treatments. Ask questions and talk about your concerns. Between appointments, keep a journal to record your symptoms and write down questions or thoughts as they occur. Bring the record to your next appointment and share your observations with your doctor. 2. Keep all of your records During the course of mesothelioma treatment, many records and documents will be generated, including health insurance paperwork and statements, test results, discharge reports, procedures performed, and medications prescribed. It's important to keep copies of all records and documents pertaining to your mesothelioma treatments in an organized, accessible, and safe way. Having access to your records will assist loved ones or caretakers to take over your care should you become incapacitated. In addition, good record-keeping will allow you to keep your healthcare team up-to-date, especially if there are changes in team members. 3. Ask for help The many resources for people living with mesothelioma include counseling, body work, social or community organizations, and religious or spiritual organizations. Whether you need help maintaining a positive attitude, quitting a harmful habit, or something else, support is available for almost any concern. Ask your healthcare professionals, consult community directories, or contact the American Cancer Society for help locating the best resource for a particular need. Living with mesothelioma comes with great challenges. It might take patience and practice in each of these four areas before you start to feel more empowered or less frightened. Always remember that you're not alone — there are many other people living with incurable cancers. Seek out a support community to help you keep moving forward with positive thinking, eating well, exercising, and being your own advocate. If you practice all four of these “musts” to the best of your ability, your quality of life is likely to improve. Reference: Previous: Four “Musts” When Living With Mesothelioma: Stay Active Next: Can the Measles Virus Help Mesothelioma Prognosis?