Mesothelioma is a condition that is often challenging to control. Treatments frequently work for a duration of time and postpone the progression of cancer. At some point, however, mesothelioma will return or advance. Your medical team might tell you that your condition is no longer capable or being controlled or they can no longer get in front of cancer as the result of its growth pattern.
If you are in this situation, you and your medical team might consider switching the focus of your care to address your condition and make the choice to discontinue any other kinds of aggressive therapy. If your condition and its treatment are resulting in a substantial amount of symptoms that are lessening your life quality, you might decide to not take any further actions to control your cancer treatment.
A person who decides to give up on treatment is not weak. Instead, this is a personal choice and the individual’s loved ones should support them. Family members should join together to help the individual with mesothelioma to live the best possible conclusion as they can to their journey. During this time, the patient should do all the things that they have been delaying. The patient and his or her loved ones can make choice about what lies ahead as well as gets the individual’s legal as well as financial matters organized. During this time, it’s also helpful to speak with your physician about what kinds of programs or even assistance exists for you and your loved one to address your needs.
Reasons You Might Discontinue Treatment
Cancer treatment is intended to be intense. Physicians rely on every possible existing strategy to control cancer. Selecting to discontinue treatment, however, is not the same as giving up. After all, in some situations, treatment can cause more bad than good, and stopping treatment might be a brave choice. Some of the reasons why you might choose to end treatment include:
- The cancer is advanced and additional treatment will not make a difference in prolonging your life
- After trying multiple types of treatment, none have worked
- The side effects and dangers associated with treatment are worse than the benefits
Speaking with Your Physician About Ending Treatment
Firstly, if a person is worried about discontinuing cancer treatment, they must have a discussion with their oncologist about their situation. Some important questions that you should ask your oncologist during this conversation include:
- How the cancer is responding to treatment
- The outlook of your situation if you proceed with treatment
- What will happen to your health if you stop the treatment
- What your symptoms and quality of life will be if you stop the treatment
- What treatment is available for symptoms you will experience if you stop the treatment
Advice on Making the Best Decision About the Future Of Your Care
As you consider what is the best decision for you, there are some helpful pieces of advice that you should remember to follow:
- Consider your condition. If you are depressed, you might lose your goals. Before deciding, speak to a mental health professional, ask your physician about discontinuing depression medication, or both of these conditions.
- Consider your choices. Some people want to utilize every possible strategy for treatment before they make a decision. These individuals might want to receive a second choice from another physician or determine if you can locate a trial testing new treatments.
- Obtain support. Seek professionals who can help you consider what the best option is for you. You can request that a member of your medical team make a counselor referral. You might consider looking for support from religious entities or a hospital chaplain.
- Realize this is a choice you make on your own. Some people might want you to stop treatment. These individuals might not be prepared to let you go. You should still put yourself first. While this might be a difficult conversation to have, patients and their loved ones should have conversations about this topic. If the subject matter introduces substantial tension among you and your loved ones, you should ask your physicians about an ethics consult. Many centers that offer treatment options have professionals in ethics who can help you and your loved ones resolve these kinds of conflicts.
- Maintain an open mind. Remember, you can always change your mind about your medical choices. For example, after discontinuing treatment, a new medication might be introduced, a new clinical trial might occur, or you might hear of a physician who has a new method of treating your cancer. You might decide to restart treatment in these situations.
Evaluating Your Ground Rules When It Comes to Deciding on Treatment
Before deciding what treatment options you will pursue, you should select some fundamental rules. You will almost certainly be more comfortable with your treatment choices if you take the following actions:
- Pick how much information you’d like to know. Some people want to learn what their survival odds are, but not everyone does. If you would rather not know this information, you should let your medical provider know this. Make certain that you tell your medical provider if someone you know might want to learn these details. In this case, you should bring this individual to your appointments.
- Pick how you want to make choices about your treatment. You might be interested in taking priority in making choices. Alternatively, you might be interested in leaving all choices in the hands of your physician. Or, you might be in a middle ground with your doctor and share choices about the decision-making process. It might help to think about how you’ve addressed past choices. It might additionally help to have a loved one who can help you make decisions.
- Maintain realistic expectations. Your physician can provide you with estimates about what to expect from each kind of treatment. The degree of side effects that you are willing to handle will be influenced by the potential benefits of treatment. Make sure to adequately communicate your choices to your medical team.
- Avoid letting yourself feel pressured to make certain choices about your treatment. Instead, take adequate time and select the medical choice that you think is the best.
- You will require support during your treatment. Support can come from your medical team or loved ones. If you do not feel adequately supported in how you make decisions, consider contacting groups like the American Cancer Society that can help connect you with others in a similar situation.
Decide on What Goal Is Suitable For Your Situation
Deciding what you would like from treatment can help you focus on what choices are suitable for treatment. With mesothelioma, you might not be hoping for a permanent cure or rather stabilization or relief from the symptoms you are experiencing. Some of the treatment goals that you might have include:
- Mesothelioma in most cases is not capable of being treated. In some situations, however, chemotherapy can be used to postpone the progression of the illness.
- If your mesothelioma is in its later stages, you might adjust to controlling cancer. Different types of treatment might focus on reducing the size of your cancer or even stopping cancer from growing. If this is your goal, you might not be prepared to face the side effects associated with harsher treatments.
- If your condition has not adequately responded to treatment, you might focus on comfort. You and your medical team will work together to make certain that you remain free of pain as well as other symptoms. Services including hospice and palliative care might prove to be good options for you.
Research Your Available Options for Treatment
To make reasonable choices about your treatment, you should pay attention to your stage of cancer, what treatment options exist, and how treatments will likely work in your situation. Speak with your medical team about dependable websites and educational material for patients to support your discussions.
Measure the Advantages Against the Risk of Treatment
Compare the advantage against the risks of what treatment you ultimately select. Some issues that you will likely need to consider when deciding on treatment include:
- Side effects. Consider the effects associated with each type of treatment and determine whether they will help you endure or be too much for you to handle. Your medical team can better inform you about the various side effects you can expect to face as well as explain your options for appropriately addressing side effects.
- How treatment will impact you. Consider how treatment will impact your daily life. Ask yourself important questions including how you will get to treatments, how frequently you will need to receive treatment, whether you will need a day or several weeks off, and how your loved ones will respond to the change.
- The cost of your treatment. Examine the costs of each type of treatment. Also, determine whether you will be required to pay either some or all of the costs, whether you can afford treatment, and whether any assistance programs exist.
- Your health. If you experience other health conditions, you should ask your medical team how treatment might impact these conditions.
Your goals will influence what type of treatment you decide on. Only you can pick what type of treatment is best for your situation.
Speak with Your Medical Provider
Effectively communicating with your medical team is the best method of ensuring that you receive the necessary information to make the best possible decision. To communicate more easily with your doctor, you should take the following steps:
- If you don’t understand something, say something. This includes situations where you might need additional clarification. If you do not say anything, your medical team will think that you comprehend everything.
- Write down your questions in advance. Medical appointments often prove to be stressful. Do not expect to remember to ask all of the questions that you want if you do not write them down. Note the questions that are most important to ask your doctor. Inquire whether the medical team has a way for you to ask any additional questions.
- Make note of what your doctor tells you. You might even ask to record the conversation because this will be a good reference point for later on.
- If you feel more comfortable doing so, bring a friend or loved one who can write down notes. This way another person will exist with whom you can discuss treatment options.
- Ask for copies of your medical records and bring them to your appointment.
Life Following the End of Chemotherapy
Review any physical symptoms that you are experiencing as well as any emotions that might be bothering you. Your oncologist might suggest speaking with a social worker or attending a support group with other people who are facing similar situations.
Accepting the fact that you have reached your care limit can result in additional emotions including anger and loss. Utilizing the time you have to review your wishes with loved ones. Consider how you would like to spend time with them. Some people choose to complete lifelong objectives or go on vacation instead of dealing with chemotherapy treatment. If you choose to end chemotherapy, you should make sure that you obtain relief from symptoms.
Pursing Psychotherapy After Ending Treatment
Psychotherapy has proven to help many people facing the end of their life. It is a kind of mental health treatment for any concerns or issues you might have. Therapy is a protected space where you can focus on bettering your mental health. Psychotherapy relies on various techniques and is often tailored to meet your needs. Psychotherapy often lasts between 40 to 120 minutes with sessions repeated either weekly or monthly. While you might decide to go to therapy on your own, you might also decide to go with a loved one.
It’s understandable to not know what you will gain from psychotherapy. In an early session, your therapist will often ask what therapy works best for you by utilizing a psychological assessment. It’s a good idea to pay attention to how sessions feel initially. Therapy should be a place where you feel both seen as well as heard.
Building a relationship with your therapist does not always happen, but once you build a connection, you will likely feel comforted by your choice to begin therapy. Many people facing their end of life find that therapy makes a substantial difference in preparing them for the end of their life.
When you begin receiving psychotherapy, you might have your own goals or these goals might be set by your therapist. Before continuing, you should make sure that you clearly understand the goals of therapy. Setting goals often makes therapy feel like it is more effective for patients.
Some psychotherapists exclusively deal exclusively with people who are facing the end of their life.
Reviewing Palliative Options
Palliative care is a type of additional support to help as you navigate mesothelioma care. This will not treat your cancer but will help to reduce the pain that you are experiencing as well as other symptoms. Palliative care will help you as well as your loved ones make the most of the time that you have together.
With palliative care, a person can obtain the appropriate emotional and physical support. A person can also lessen various symptoms they might be experiencing including fatigue, pain, anxiety, and nausea. In some cases, your healthcare provider can offer palliative care, but in other situations, trained palliative professionals might be necessary.
While they might be available at your home, palliative options might be provided at a medical facility. Some of the most common services that a person can receive include pain management, grief counseling, nursing care, medicines to ease symptoms, and social worker services.
You should let your medical team know as many details as you want them to about your condition including end-of-life issues.
Hospice Care Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Medical care that a person receives close to the end of his or her life is referred to as hospice care. Hospices watch over a person’s physical, spiritual, and mental requirements when the end of a person’s life comes. While it will not cure your cancer, hospice care can help to keep you free of various symptoms including pain. Hospice care also helps you and your loved ones make the most of however much time you have remaining. While hospice care can be given in your home, it might also be provided at a medical facility. Some types of hospice care include pain management, grief counseling, respite care, medical care, and social work.
If you reach a point where you decide to give up on cancer treatments, you should pursue hospice care. You might have reached a point where your medical team does not think you will live any longer than six months, no treatment exists where the benefits outweigh the risks, or you want to focus on making the most of the time you have remaining.