Strategies for Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If you recently learned that you have mesothelioma, you have probably been feeling lots of different emotions, like anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, confusion or loneliness. You may even feel numb, like your brain has shut off your emotions. This is totally normal; most people with mesothelioma react this way.
In our almost 40 years of experience helping people make informed legal and medical choices, we at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood have learned that it’s important to address your emotions early and often.
Something to keep in mind as you go through treatments is that there is no “right” way to react to having mesothelioma. How you feel is how you feel. Here are some strategies that we recommend:
- Don’t bottle your feelings or censor yourself around friends, family and doctors. It will only make you feel helpless or isolated. Instead, be candid and honest about your emotions. You might be surprised at how good it can feel to simply say out loud that you are scared, angry or stressed out.
- Don’t feel you have to be the strong one. It is easy to fall into a cycle in which you end up comforting everyone else and forget (or refuse to acknowledge) that you also need support. Remember that comfort and communication are two-way streets.
- It can be helpful to see a counselor, someone who specializes in talking with patients who have advanced cancers, chronic diseases or mesothelioma itself. Usually, taking your loved ones to these meetings is good for everyone, as it can help you and those caring for you learn to ride out the emotional roller coaster.
- Don’t worry if you feel like a different person every day, or even every hour. This is a natural part of the mesothelioma journey. It happens because your mind, just like your body, needs time to cope with the stress and change that come with having mesothelioma.
You can expect to feel all sorts of emotions, including denial, anger, fear, depression, sadness, loneliness, guilt and confusion. Don’t try to ignore them. Go ahead and feel bad. You have every right. Be sure to talk about it, though. There are lots of peer support groups and one-on-one counselors where you can meet people who are in the same boat.
Be sure to seek help if you find that emotions like denial or depression are getting in the way of your desire to follow your treatment plan.
Also, keep in mind that with the bad feelings come good ones: hope, optimism, humor and acceptance. Making plans for the future, focusing on relationships with loved ones and acknowledging the positives of your situation can help you feel strong, whole and happy.