A mesothelioma diagnosis may bring some relief (at last you have the answer to what is causing your symptoms). You may also feel overwhelmed by the seriousness of this disease. Mesothelioma healthcare can be intensive and all-consuming. Suddenly, your life is turned upside down, your priorities rearranged.
You will need care that can slow or stop the growth of your tumors as well as palliative care to ease your symptoms and free you from pain as much as possible. You will want to spend time with your family without placing the whole burden of mesothelioma healthcare on your loved ones.
As you may realize if you have friends or family who have received a cancer diagnosis, it takes a village to provide mesothelioma healthcare. Here are some of the providers and other resources that you will probably want on your mesothelioma care team.
Mesothelioma Healthcare Specialists
Oncologists are doctors who specialize in treating cancer patients. Some oncologists specialize even further, focusing on mesothelioma healthcare. If you can get treatment from or consult with physicians and surgeons who have treated numerous mesothelioma patients, you know you will be getting the best care available.
The Stanford Health Care, Stanford Medical Center, offers mesothelioma patients the chance to participate in clinical trials of the latest treatment options, plus the wealth of knowledge of mesothelioma healthcare that this teaching hospital offers. The University of San Francisco Medical Center includes a thoracic oncology program that provides top-notch care for mesothelioma patients. Other centers that specialize in mesothelioma healthcare exist around the country. We can help you connect with high quality care near your home.
If you’re a veteran, you may qualify for care through the VA. Because so many veterans were exposed to asbestos during their military service, the VA employs mesothelioma specialists at some VA centers. The San Francisco Bay Area VA hospitals, because of their proximity to private healthcare centers that specialize in mesothelioma healthcare, have extra resources for treating veterans with mesothelioma. If you don’t live near a VA Hospital that employs mesothelioma specialists, you have the right to travel to receive care at any VA center. You can also consult remotely with a specialist through the VA system, so you can receive top notch mesothelioma healthcare advice without leaving home.
Your oncology team will be the ones to prescribe and administer chemotherapy, immunotherapy and/or radiation, depending on what treatments are indicated.
If surgery is part of the care plan that your physicians feel is right for you, your team will probably include a thoracic surgeon if you have pleural mesothelioma. Your lungs are a complex and delicate organ. Your thoracic surgeon specializes in operating on lung tissue to remove tumors and diseased tissue while preserving your lung function as much as possible.
While surgery is not the most common option for mesothelioma healthcare, there are some promising treatments that combine surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation to increase survival times. Surgery is more common among patients who are diagnosed with early stage mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Healthcare Support from Your Primary Physician
Mesothelioma is a serious and rare cancer, so your primary care doctor probably doesn’t provide mesothelioma healthcare every day. Don’t paint your family doctor out of the picture once you have a mesothelioma diagnosis, however. Your primary care provider knows more about your overall health than anyone. He or she can be a valuable member of your mesothelioma healthcare team. Your family physician may be able to contribute by prescribing pain medication and providing referrals to support your mental and physical health while you are undergoing treatment. Keep your doctor informed about your ongoing treatment with various specialists and you might find you have a tremendous ally in gathering the best possible mesothelioma healthcare team.
Mental Health is Part of Mesothelioma Healthcare
Many people become understandably depressed after a cancer diagnosis. Even if you don’t have a history of depression, the weight of your mesothelioma diagnosis can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
You don’t have to suffer alone. It’s perfectly natural and normal to reach out for help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Improving your mental and emotional outlook can improve your prognosis and help you get the most out of the time you have left. Psychological care is an important – and often neglected – facet of mesothelioma healthcare.
The Stanford Medicine Cancer Center is one mesothelioma healthcare provider that recognizes the value of emotional support. With its Cancer Supportive Care Program, the facility offers free support groups where mesothelioma patients can connect with others in the same situation and receive emotional and spiritual support.
Stanford’s services include support for families, too. Family services include workshops for caregivers, financial counseling, and support services for surviving family members of the mesothelioma patient.
Creative Mesothelioma Support
Some cancer healthcare providers recognize and incorporate the healing properties of music and art as part of mesothelioma healthcare. Stanford’s Cancer Center has live piano music.
At the University of California San Francisco, mesothelioma patients can join Art for Recovery. This award-winning program gives patients an outlet to express their feelings through artistic expression and writing. This, in turn, helps others who can view the words and paintings created by patients, which are on display in the program’s gallery.
Friends and Family in the Mesothelioma Healthcare Picture
Of course, your friends and family are crucial members of your mesothelioma healthcare team. No matter how strong and resilient you are, you will need help to navigate the ins and outs of mesothelioma healthcare. The people who love you can pitch in by driving you to appointments and cooking meals as well as offering much-needed emotional support. Your mesothelioma diagnosis may make you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Families may find help in organizing mesothelioma healthcare for a loved one through websites set up to schedule community care, such as Caring Bridge, Care Calendar, and Lotsa Helping Hands. At the names indicate, many hands make light work when it comes to mesothelioma healthcare.
You can also connect with mesothelioma patients and their supporters through online communities. Mesothelioma Circle offers connections throughout the US and around the globe on its blog, on Twitter @mesocircle, and through @MesotheliomaCircle on Facebook.
Hospice Mesothelioma Healthcare
Hospice provides in-home end-of-life care for patients with a terminal diagnosis. Patients may sometimes also receive short-term inpatient care in hospice centers. Hospice can be a crucial part of mesothelioma healthcare, providing counseling, support for family caregivers, and expert pain management and palliative care. Hospice can bring a medical bed into your home for ease and comfort and send home nurses to visit. Hospice can help make the final months or weeks of mesothelioma healthcare much more comfortable for patients and their families.