Coping > How Mesothelioma Affects the Family

A mesothelioma diagnosis affects not only the patient, but their family as well. How your particular family handles your diagnosis may be determined by how they have functioned as a family in the past. Families who openly discuss things and share their feelings readily with each other are usually able to talk about serious matters and the changes they bring, but families who face obstacles individually, or where one person has played the major role in decision making might have more difficulty coping.

Even though your needs may be greater because you have mesothelioma, and it can be hard to ask for help, those who seek and receive help from others often find it easier to cope. Spouses and adult children may be going through the same range of emotions as you are when it comes to your diagnosis and treatment, so if possible, include them when discussing your illness and making decisions about your treatment. Letting them know your thoughts and wishes will help everyone better plan for the new roles each will be taking on in the future. It is entirely possible that other members of your family will want to take on some of the responsibilities that you handled before you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, but it is best that no one person take on too many roles, or their ability to cope may be compromised.

Because normal patterns of family living may be disrupted during diagnosis and treatment, evaluating what is most important can solve many problems. Let an objective party help sort out necessary tasks from those that can be left undone or those that can be postponed. Weigh the financial costs of professional services such as household repairs or lawn service against the toll it will take on a family member who already has a full time job and a household of their own.

Relationships can be both strained and strengthened during this time so it is important for everyone to try and maintain a sense of balance in their lives, and have adequate time to take care of their own personal needs. Mesothelioma and its treatments can be hard on everyone, including your caregivers, so encourage them to take time off to run their errands, enjoy their friends or simply have a rest. Watch for signs of depression in your caregivers, and if you see that one of them is depressed, encourage them to seek professional help. Let the caregiver know that other people are available to help you while they are taking care of themselves.

Living with mesothelioma may well be one of the biggest challenges you and your family will ever face, but if you have the love and support of your family and friends, live each day to its fullest and take pleasure in the simple things in life, the journey will be made easier for everyone.

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