Coping > Emotions and a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

When you first receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma, many thoughts may go through your mind. You may feel uncertain about how your family and friends will react, and what changes will take place in your life and theirs because of your illness. It is not uncommon to feel numb or confused when you first hear you have cancer, but accepting the diagnosis, and then moving ahead is important to both your well-being and those you are close to. The “Coping” section of this website will hopefully offer some ideas on how to direct your energy toward positive goals and how to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Your Feelings

Each individual may react differently when they find out they have mesothelioma, and may experience a range of emotions such as shock, disbelief, fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness, depression and anger.

  • Shock or Disbelief
    Shock may be the first emotion you experience because no one is ever prepared to hear they have cancer. This is particularly true of mesothelioma where, chances are, the exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fiber occurred from 20 to 50 or more years ago. Most likely, the first symptom of mesothelioma which caused you to seek medical attention was a large build-up of fluid, called pleural effusion, which caused shortness of breath. Once the fluid was drained, you probably felt significantly better, and may have doubted or denied the accuracy of the diagnosis.
  • Fear or Anxiety
    It is not unusual for you to feel fear or anxiety, in fact, fear of pain and suffering is one of the greatest fears experienced by most patients and their families. You may also be anxious about the treatments your doctor may be recommending, and wonder how you will be able to get through them.
  • Guilt
    You may feel guilty and ask yourself what symptoms could have been noticed earlier or whether certain behavior, such as smoking, could have caused your mesothelioma. In a very high percentage of cases diagnosed, fluid build up is the first symptom to get someone’s attention; in other cases, the cancer is found incidentally during routine testing or procedures. While smoking is obviously not encouraged, it has no relationship to mesothelioma.
  • Sadness or Depression
    With a diagnosis of cancer comes uncertainty, and when the future is uncertain, you may have feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Even thinking about treatments and how they may affect you and your family can cause additional concerns which can ultimately lead to depression. It is important to remember, however, that these are feelings that can be dealt with supportive help or in some cases, medication. More on depression.
  • Anger
    Anger is probably the widest reaching emotion you may experience because it can extend to family members, friends or health care professionals. If you are only trying to vent your feelings, be sure to let people know your anger is not directed at them and you don’t expect them to have solutions to your problems.

Other coping with mesothelioma resources:

Physical Coping with Mesothelioma

How Mesothelioma Affects the Family

People Who Can Help You Cope

Coping Financially with Mesothelioma


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