Mesothelioma is a serious condition that alters not only the life of the patient but also friends and family. When your loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will want to help them battle the condition. In the initial stages of mesothelioma, patients can still do most things independently. However, they might still struggle with various things, especially getting to terms with the diagnosis. Friends and family need to be there for the patient in such times and let them know that everything will be fine. When mesothelioma advances to severe stages, patients become needier. They cannot do most things alone and will need your help as friends or family. There are many ways friends can help a mesothelioma patient cope with the condition. Knowing specific ways to help your loved one battle the condition is essential. Despite their state, most mesothelioma patients don’t want to feel like a burden. They might not ask for help even when they need it. Therefore, it is up to the family members and friends to help whenever necessary. You are encouraged to be precise when offering help to avoid getting in the patient’s space. They might be in a delicate situation but still, need their privacy. Therefore, caregivers should keep this in mind when attending to them.
Assisting Mesothelioma Patients
Friends and family play a critical role in helping mesothelial patients cope with the condition. If you have been tasked with caring for a mesothelioma patient, you should know the best ways to make them comfortable. As mentioned earlier, mesothelioma patients don’t want to feel like burdens to their loved ones and could avoid asking for help. Caregivers should know everything about mesothelioma and the best ways they can make the patient comfortable. For instance, if you are taking care of the patient long-term, you should understand the different types of mesothelioma symptoms. This is vital because it helps you know what the patient is going through. Sometimes, the patient might not say what they are experiencing because they don’t want to be a bother, but if you know the physical symptoms, you can help them. Experts advise caregivers to learn the crucial symptoms of mesothelioma, especially when the condition is in advanced stages. When the patient is in critical condition, they might be unable to communicate or ask for help. This is why caregivers should know all the symptoms associated with the condition. Some symptoms might be basic and don’t cause any harm, but others might be debilitating.
Friends and family are essential to the patient’s well-being. Not only do they provide the care needed to keep the patient comfortable, but they also offer psychological support. Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer, can negatively impact the patient’s mental health. Friends help the patient embrace their condition and put up a spirited fight against mesothelioma. Most mesothelioma patients will manage the symptoms better with good mental health. Besides, having a clear mind will help the body manage the side effects of mesothelioma treatment. It is essential for friends and family to know their role in helping the patient.
Thankfully, there are many specific ways friends and family can assist. Here are some of them.
Help With Daily Tasks
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma doesn’t mean daily chores and errands come to an end. Just like everyone else, mesothelial patients are faced with daily errands they have to do to live comfortably. While you have the energy to do these tasks, mesothelioma patients struggle. This is because the condition takes a toll on them and affects their ability to execute daily tasks. Therefore, one of the most beneficial ways you can help your loved one is by offering to assist with daily tasks. Helping the patient take care of these chores will make them comfortable.
For instance, if you haven’t done your daily chores, you feel pressured, right? This is how mesothelioma patients also feel whenever they can’t do daily tasks. Such thoughts affect their mental health and derail their path to recovery. Therefore, as friends and family, you can help the patient manage these activities. One way you can do so is by making a list of things you are willing to do and asking the patient or caregiver where you can help. For instance, if you are going to do your family shopping, you can call your friend and ask them if there is anything they need from the supermarket. This will save them from the trouble of having to go to the supermarket. However, your friend might find it hard to ask for help because, you guessed it right, they don’t want to feel like a burden. To help you know how you can assist the patient with daily tasks, here are some ideas:
- Do Grocery Shopping
We all need groceries, and mesothelioma patients aren’t an exception. You can help your friend by handling their grocery shopping. This is easy because you can do so while shopping for your own groceries. If unsure of the items to pick, you can call the patient’s caregiver. Caregivers know what is good for the patient and will give accurate information. If your friend is still in great condition and doesn’t need the help of a caregiver, you can call them instead. Insist that you have to grocery shop for them because they might decline your offer out of kindness. If you are not ready to have that conversation, use your own shopping list to get them some items.
- Pick Up Prescriptions
When mesothelioma starts advancing, it weighs down the patient. Your loved one might become weaker and unable to drive around. Therefore, you can offer to pick up their prescriptions. This is helpful because mesothelioma patients need to take medications on time. You can contact the doctor and ask them when to pick up the medication. You can also drive your friend to the doctor’s appointment. However, you should ask them before doing so because some patients prefer going to medical appointments alone.
- You Can Send a Meal
While meals are likely already taken care of, you can send your friend their favorite meal. However, you should know the patient’s diet before preparing a meal. There are different types of mesothelioma, and each has unique needs. You should know the patient’s nutritional requirements before sending them a prepared meal. You are encouraged to contact the caregiver and know the healthy foods for the patient. This goes a long way in enhancing their health.
- Do Basic Chores
You can offer to do basic chores for your friend. For instance, you can clean their lawn and organize their garden. Patients with advanced mesothelioma cases might be unable to perform such basic chores and will need your help. You can also do their laundry or dishes. Such simple activities will go a long way in reducing the patient’s workload. They will have more time to relax, hence a speedy recovery. It is essential to know that mesothelioma treatment like chemotherapy could have severe side effects. The patient needs to relax most of the time to reduce the discomfort caused by these treatments. Therefore, helping them with basic chores is essential for their health.
- Invite Them for a Walk
Another great way friends can help mesothelioma patients is by inviting them for a walk. If your friend is in stable condition, you can invite them for a walk around the neighborhood. Engaging in such activities is helpful to the patient. In fact, doctors advise that mesothelioma patients should engage in physical activities as much as possible. Therefore, inviting them to go for a walk will help improve their resistance. However, you should be careful not to overwork the patient. Don’t go on too long walks that could wear down the patient. Instead, go for a casual walk that will distract the patient from their condition. If possible, you can also engage in light exercises.
Set Up a Phone Team
When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, friends and family want to be updated with the latest status. The patient ends up receiving a lot of calls and inquiries that can be overwhelming. Therefore, you can help them manage all the phone calls and keep others updated. A mesothelioma patient has a lot going on in their mind and might not be mentally and physically fit to talk about their diagnosis. You can set up a team whereby only one person in the group contacts the patient and updates the rest. You can volunteer to be the patient’s contact person and help them manage all the inquiries. If your friend is a popular person, everyone will be worried about them and will be calling to check on them. While this is a good gesture of love and concern, it might overwhelm the patient. Having a contact person also helps let everyone know if the patient wants phone calls or prefers some privacy.
Be Thoughtful With Your Gifts
As a friend or family member, you want to show love and care for the patient. One way you can express that is through gifts. While giving gifts to your loved one is okay, you need to be very thoughtful when gifting mesothelioma patients. Perhaps, you might have thought about getting them soup, baking a casserole, or any other meal. While this is a good gesture, your friend might need to stick to a special diet. This is the case, especially when they are undergoing mesothelioma treatment. When a person is under mesothelioma treatment, they might have symptoms like vomiting and nausea. They might also be vulnerable to infections due to their weakened immune system. Therefore, you should be very careful when getting them food. You should first check with the caregiver and see which foods the patient needs. It is also vital to be thoughtful when getting them other gifts. For instance, it is not ideal to give a patient books that talk about their condition. Instead, get them a gift that doesn’t have anything to do with their diagnosis. You can get them their favorite video game or offer them out on vacation. This will go a long way in improving the patient’s condition.
Remember that Every Condition Is Different
Even if your friend has the same type of mesothelioma as another person you know, you should remember that the symptoms are unique. You might want to make the patient feel like they are not alone by comparing their condition to that of another person. Avoid that. What your friend is experiencing might be totally different from what another person is experiencing, even if they have the same type of mesothelioma. Therefore, you should avoid comparing illnesses even if you are trying to be helpful. Instead, focus on their health, knowing that they are experiencing unique symptoms. You should also be careful with the remarks you make because they can influence the patient’s mental health. For instance, don’t say things that could make them feel they will not survive the battle. Instead, let them know everything will be okay and the condition can be fixed.
Listen to Them
One of the most helpful and meaningful things friends and family can do for mesothelioma patients is listen to them. Mesothelioma patients have a lot of thoughts, some of which might be causing emotional damage. Offering a listening ear will give them a chance to get some of these things off their chest. Instead of talking more, let your friend speak their mind out. One mistake friends make when hanging out with mesothelioma patients is trying to ignore the condition. If you don’t know what to say, you can acknowledge the situation by saying, “this is so hard, I honestly don’t know what to say.” Doing so will let the patient know that you understand what they are going through but just lack words to express yourself. Ignoring their situation will only make it worse. By listening, you will know some of the things bothering your friend and help them if possible. This goes a long way in enhancing their well-being.
Check With Them First
When it comes to showing support for your loved one, it is essential to ask for permission. Mesothelioma patients have different needs, and knowing exactly what they want is great for their comfort. This is why we should check with them first before doing things that involve them. For instance, if you are planning to visit them, you send them a quick email or text message to ensure they are okay with it. Similarly, if you want to do a favor that might help them, you should inquire about it first. Doing so will help prevent getting the patient off guard and unprepared. The same approach should be used when asking questions about their condition. If you have a conversation with them, you can tell whether they are open to talking about their condition. Some mesothelioma patients are open and ready to talk about their diagnosis, while others might find it uncomfortable. If you feel like your friend is open to talking about their condition, you tell them that you care about them and you want to know how they are feeling. Before asking them any questions, you should ask for their permission first. Don’t just pop up questions without warning, especially if the patient hasn’t come to terms with their diagnosis. It is essential to know that unwanted advice can be harmful and frustrating for mesothelioma patients. However, if they are willing to talk to you about it, you can go ahead and have the conversation.
Treat Them the Same
When a friend or family member is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can create an uncomfortable situation. You might not know how to act or what to say around them. Most mesothelioma patients prefer normalcy, even after the diagnosis. Therefore, treating them the same is a great way to show support for a loved one with mesothelioma. Ensure that you are not treating them differently, even if you do it out of love. How you speak to them also means a lot. Simple questions like how you are doing today might mean something else. For instance, such questions might translate to “how sick are you feeling today?”. Therefore, you should be cautious with your words when talking to a mesothelioma patient.
It is also vital to avoid distancing yourself from your friend. This will make them feel different and unsure of how to socialize with others. Some people feel unsure of how to talk with a mesothelioma patient and end up distancing themselves. This shouldn’t be the case. You should continue calling them and talking to them about things you have in common. For instance, you can talk about your team’s performance if you are both baseball fans. Therefore, there is no reason to avoid interacting with them out of your own fear.
Friends and family are vital for a patient’s recovery. A mesothelioma diagnosis can impact the patient’s progress, but friends can help them manage their situation. The specific ways you can do so (as highlighted in this guide) will enhance the patient’s welfare.