Mesothelioma is a serious illness primarily caused by asbestos fibers trapped in the lungs and other areas of the body. As the fibers remain stuck in bodily tissue, it causes inflammation that eventually causes other problems.
After the initial inflammation begins, the additional symptoms of mesothelioma take decades to develop, which makes early detection and treatment basically impossible. To add to the difficulty, symptoms mimic common illnesses, which means some people may not even realize they have mesothelioma. For instance, the following symptoms may not be recognized right away:
- Chest pain
- Fluid build-up in the lungs
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent coughing
These symptoms are common to other, less serious illnesses like colds and flus, and fluid in the lungs can be misconstrued as pneumonia if there’s no reason to believe it could be mesothelioma.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or if you’re in the process of getting a diagnosis, the following tips will help you handle this difficult time a little better.
1. Get treatment immediately
Once you get diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s critical to begin treatment immediately. Based on the specifics of your illness, your doctor will recommend the different treatment options you have available. For instance, you might need to have fluid drained once or several times.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and get treated right away because the longer you wait, the worse your symptoms will become. If you’re in the early stages of this illness, the sooner you start treating it, the better.
2. Stay active as much as possible
It’s important to stay active to keep your mind and body engaged and as healthy as possible. Just because you have an illness doesn’t mean you should lock yourself in your room and stop taking care of yourself.
The right level of activity is different for everyone, so find what works best for you. If all you can do is take a walk around the block, that’s good enough. If you can do yoga, that’s even better. Taking care of your body despite your illness can prevent you from developing other health issues, and staying active can help to prevent depression.
3. Talk to a counselor
Dealing with an aggressive illness like mesothelioma can take a toll on your emotional health. It’s a good idea to find someone you can talk to about what you’re experiencing.
Talking with a counselor will help you process your feelings and keep you from becoming overwhelmed by your emotions. You can also talk to a friend or family member that you trust. Either way, don’t keep your feelings to yourself because that will only make you feel worse. When you bottled up your emotions, it can also impact your physical wellbeing.
4. Eat healthy
Maintaining a healthy diet is always important, but it’s critical when you’re dealing with a serious illness. Your body needs nutrients more than ever when you’re sick, so eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will help your body stay at its best while you go through treatment. Some treatments can deplete the body quickly, so optimal nutrition is your best option.
You may want to talk to a nutritionist about your situation to find out if there are any specific protocols you can follow to optimize your nutrition based on your symptoms and treatments. For instance, you might benefit from eating more leafy greens or less of certain types of fruits depending on your situation.
Meditation is an excellent way to keep yourself emotionally healthy during a rough time. According to the American Heart Association (AMA), meditation helps manage stress and high blood pressure, and helps you sleep better at night.
Even if meditation isn’t your thing, you can still find a quiet space to focus for ten minutes a day without distraction. You don’t have to engage in any intense meditation practices or try to get into a full lotus position. All you need is ten minutes of quiet time alone. You can meditate in your house, your backyard, or even in a park if you can find the right space.
Take things one day at a time
Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma can be overwhelming, so try to take things one day at a time. Follow your doctor’s advice to get treatment, and make sure you take care of yourself mentally and physically. Caring for yourself will make things a little easier while you go through your treatments, and finding a good support system will help you emotionally.