When a family member or friend is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the natural reaction is wanting to help. Most people offer to do whatever is necessary to make the patient comfortable. While offering a helping hand is selfless, you must be careful not to intrude on the patient’s space. Even though your loved one might feel helpless because everything is out of their control, they still need privacy. This is why friends and family need to find ways to help without necessarily intruding.
Thankfully, there are many ways for caregivers to support a loved one in battling mesothelioma. In fact, many mesothelioma patients say they get offers from friends and family, asking what they can do to help. Asking mesothelioma patients what you can do to help will help you know the exact kind of help they need. However, some patients might find such questions uncomfortable. Asking them might look intruding because patients don’t want to feel like burdens. Instead, you can observe their situation and offer help without asking what you can do. This is the case, especially if the patient is stable and can still handle most things alone.
Friends and family are important pillars for mesothelioma patients, and that should remain the case. Try as much as possible not to intrude on the patient’s privacy when helping out. If you feel the patient needs financial or emotional assistance, you can help them without asking. You can also talk to the patient’s caregiver and find out what they need or what is lacking. Doing so will help improve the patient’s well-being and speed up recovery.
Caring for Mesothelioma Patients
Friends and family have an essential role in caring for a mesothelioma patient. Those tasked with caregiving responsibilities should know all details about mesothelioma. For instance, if you are assigned long-term or live-in caregiving responsibilities, you should know the different mesothelioma symptoms. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through. Learning these symptoms isn’t only designed to enhance your caregiving services but also prevent you from intruding into the patient’s space. Some symptoms might be more debilitating while some might be basic and harmless.
Friends and family tasked with these responsibilities should understand the patient’s symptoms and how they feel. One way you can do so is by accompanying the patient to a doctor’s appointment. This is vital because it helps the caregiver learn things that could help eliminate the symptoms. Besides, friends can accompany the patient to medical appointments for moral support. You are encouraged to find out what the patient feels about that because some might prefer going to appointments alone. This means that before friends decide to team up and accompany the patient to medical appointments, it is ideal to know if the patient is comfortable with that. While accompanying your loved one is a great, selfless gesture, some patients might not be comfortable with that. It ends up looking like you are intruding into their privacy, which shouldn’t be the case. Therefore, friends can inquire about the caregiver and know if the patient would love that.
However, close family members tasked with caregiving services should accompany the patient to such appointments. This is because, sometimes, the patient is overwhelmed with the information provided and needs a helping hand. Caregivers can accompany them and take note of crucial information. They can also ask questions on behalf of the patient and find ways to control symptoms. Your loved one will appreciate your presence at the doctor’s appointment, especially if they are having a difficult time understanding the diagnosis. Write down any vital information that came up before the appointment so that you can ask the doctor for clarification. It is vital to note that every mesothelioma case is different, and the patient’s needs could vary. Besides, mesothelioma patients react to symptoms differently. This means that the type of care you provide will vary depending on the stage of mesothelioma, the kind of cancer they have, and the patient’s unique needs.
Simple Ways Friends and Family Can Help
As mentioned earlier, friends and family play a key role in facilitating the patient’s recovery. When a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are many ways you can help them get comfortable. Here are some of the simple ways you can help a mesothelioma patient without intruding:
- Grocery Shopping
We all need groceries. In fact, an average person visits the grocery store about two to three times a week. Given the patient’s condition, they might not be able to go grocery shopping. Friends and family can step up and grocery shop for them. The best way you can do that is by calling the caregiver and asking if there is anything you can drop off or pick up. If the mesothelioma patient is in good condition and can still tend to their grocery needs, you can call them instead. However, you should be careful with the wording of your question. Don’t make the patient feel like they are now helpless and can’t do most things on their own. Instead, make them know they can handle such activities by themselves, and you just reduce their chores. On the other hand, if the patient is in critical condition and can’t move around, ask their caregiver if you can grocery shop for them weekly. You can also ask for a list of their favorite ingredients for easier facilitation.
- Be Their Point of Contact
Mesothelioma is quite a serious condition that worries patients and loved ones. This means that when a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, friends and family will be interested in their progress. Many people will be calling to ask them how they are doing. While that is a good gesture that shows genuine concern for the patient, it can be overwhelming. It might feel like intruding on the patient’s space with too many inquiries.
Therefore, you can offer to help by being the patient’s point of contact. As a close friend or family member, you can keep everyone updated on the patient’s progress. This will give the patient the calm and privacy they need. You can answer phone calls, receive visitors, and do other related activities. Remember that mesothelioma treatment might have severe side effects on the patient. This makes them weak and unable to do basic things like receiving visitors or answering calls. Reduce their struggles by offering to do some of these things.
- Offer a Ride
When the patient is still in good condition, they can drive themselves to medical appointments and other activities. However, as the condition progresses, patients become weaker and unable to drive comfortably. You can offer to drive them to their appointments and other errands. However, you must ensure the patient’s privacy is respected even when driving them around. For instance, you shouldn’t bring your other friends without talking to the patient about it first. As mentioned earlier, some mesothelioma patients would prefer to be alone during medical appointments. This privacy should be respected at all times. If the patient feels it is okay to bring others along, then you can do so. The bottom line is to prioritize the patient’s well-being and preferences, even if you are only helping.
- Take Care of Some Chores
This is one of the most common ways friends and family help mesothelioma patients. When battling mesothelioma, people might not be strong enough to do basic chores. Therefore, you can offer to help with these chores depending on your ability. For instance, you can help with minor household projects like organizing the yard or pruning the garden. Such simple gestures will make the patient comfortable. If the patient has pets, you watch them or take them out for a walk. Doing these chores on behalf of the patient shows that you care and understand their situation. However, you should keep them in the loop, especially if they are still in a healthy condition.
It is understandable to take over the roles of a mesothelioma patient when they are bedridden and can’t do most things by themselves. However, those in the early stages of the condition are still strong enough to do light chores by themselves. The point is, that you should evaluate the situation carefully and know how the patient feels about the help. Some patients are carefree and would appreciate anything you do for them, even when they can still do it by themselves. On the other hand, others might feel different over the same, and it could feel like you are intruding into their domain.
- Run Errands
In day-to-day life, there are many errands. Running these errands could be challenging for mesothelioma patients. Patients with advanced stages of mesothelioma find it difficult to do even the basic things. Therefore, friends and family should take over such responsibilities and help the patient get comfortable. You can offer to pick up medications, go to the post office, or drop off dry cleaning on behalf of the patient. Doing so will go a long way in reducing the patient’s burdens. If their presence is needed somewhere, like at school for parents’ day, you can go on their behalf. However, aged patients who enjoy spending time with their grandchildren don’t prefer being replaced! They would rather go out in a wheelchair than have someone else spend time with their lovely grandchildren. As a caregiver, you must understand this and grant them their wish. However, you must do so with regard to their health and well-being.
- Offer Companionship
Companionship is essential to the patient’s mental health. If your loved one is overwhelmed with mesothelioma symptoms and unable to go out and socialize, you can offer companionship. Friends and family are crucial to the patient’s mental stability. Your presence is highly valuable, especially if the patient feels lonely. There are many ways friends can spend quality time with the patient. For instance, you can play board games, enjoy watching a movie or go for a road trip around the neighborhood. Being there for a loved one in their lowest moment is great companionship.
Research on several mesothelioma patients shows that spending time with friends and family strengthens them. There was also a slightly higher recovery rate among mesothelioma patients exposed to good care. When a patient is isolated and lonely, mesothelioma symptoms will worsen. Therefore, friends and family should be there to offer them companionship and mental support. Generally, engaging in fun activities makes the patient cope with mesothelioma much better.
- Get Thoughtful Gifts
When a loved one is battling mesothelioma, the kind of gift you give them should be thoughtful. You shouldn’t give them sad movies about cancer or books about their condition. Instead, go for something unrelated to cancer or what they are experiencing. You can get them sudoku puzzles, word puzzles, or light-hearted magazines. Alternatively, you can get them their favorite computer games like War of the Lords or FIFA. Such gifts will distract them from their condition and lift their spirits. Besides, if your loved one doesn’t have movie streaming services, you can offer to get them a subscription so that they can watch movies and TV shows at any time.
You can do many other things to get your loved one excited. Some friends take their loved ones on vacation, where they forget about their condition for some time. But, any gift you get for a mesothelioma patient should be thoughtful. Offering to pay for a cleaning service is a good gesture, but you should ensure the patient is okay with it first. Don’t surprise them with gifts or services that could make them uncomfortable. Some patients might feel insecure if you give them wigs to cover their heads due to hair loss. This is why you should be very thoughtful when getting them gifts.
Given that every patient has unique needs and finds different things supportive and helpful, it is essential to consider your loved one’s preferences when offering help. You are encouraged to ask for guidance and permission from the mesothelioma patient before doing anything that seems intrusive. For instance, offering to accompany them to appointments or organizing a cleaning service might not be many patients’ preference. You should understand what their needs are and what they are comfortable with. It is essential to know that every mesothelioma patient has a unique view of what they find helpful. However, giving a little thought about what your loved one likes or values will enable you to get them the best help they need.
Consider All Treatment Options
Mesothelioma is a condition that various treatments can manage. Even though chemotherapy is the most preferred and common form of mesothelioma treatment, surgery and radiation therapy are other viable options. Therefore, as the patient’s family and friends, you should help them get reliable treatment. You should always involve your loved one when deciding on the patient’s treatment method. Even though the patient will make the final decision, being there and helping them make such difficult decisions is valuable. As family members or friends, your loved one needs moral support and scientific knowledge to choose an ideal treatment method. In such situations, you should be open with the patient and tell them facts regarding each treatment method. Let them know each treatment method’s advantages and disadvantages so that they can make an informed decision.
Thankfully, there are several mesothelioma treatment methods you can consider. For instance, a patient can consider participating in a clinical trial. While trials mean the medication hasn’t been proven, they are essential in helping manage mesothelioma symptoms. Participating in such trials will give the patient access to innovative and new treatment options that could otherwise be costly.
Several immunotherapy drugs are being tested that can shrink and control tumors. Using such medications is essential because it helps ease mesothelioma symptoms and extend life expectancy. Even better, most mesothelioma clinical trials are privately or federally funded. This means you won’t spend anything accessing them. Those interested in clinical trials can check out the National Cancer Institute, which provides treatment locations and other essential information.
Be Mindful of Your Level of Care
When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they can get overwhelmed with sadness and fear. As friends and family, you should be there to support your loved ones through such difficult times. However, you should know that the mental health process won’t be complete overnight. It will take time for a person to accept their condition and what they face. Therefore, you should create as much time as possible to spend with your loved ones and ensure their mental and emotional needs are met. For instance, you can get them thoughtful gifts that help lift their spirits. You should also distract them from their thoughts and give them hope for a better tomorrow.
Mesothelioma patients need all the help they can get from friends and family. However, when offering help to your loved one, you should be careful not to intrude. Ensure that the patient is okay with anything that might seem intrusive or affects their status quo.