Mesothelioma is when particles of asbestos are not properly decomposed in a person’s body. This can cause damage to the lining of the lungs, leading to a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. Although this cancer is aggressive and rarely curable, doctors can sometimes perform surgery or chemotherapy to improve a patient’s prognosis.
Those who care for a person diagnosed with mesothelioma are especially needed for emotional support. There are three ways, in particular, you can support someone who has mesothelioma.
#1. Support Groups
Support groups are probably the most common way to support someone facing a mesothelioma diagnosis. Being in a support group allows someone to open up to others who have a common purpose for being there and therefore are likely to understand them better.
Structure of Support Groups
Support groups come together in various forms. They can be held at a community center, a clinic, a hospital, or even at someone’s home. Because of COVID-19, many support groups are also now being held online. The groups can be run by an organization or by group members coming together themselves. Usually, though, there is someone leading the group so that the others can focus on listening and speaking up when they feel comfortable. The leader of the group could be a facilitator, someone who has personally been affected the same way as the other members, a doctor, or a psychologist as a few examples.
What Happens During a Support Group Meeting?
The format of support groups can vary depending on the type of group a patient chooses. It’s recommended to sit in on a couple of different support groups before committing to one. That way, a person can find a group they are most comfortable with.
Support group meetings can vary in a couple of different ways. Some groups will have speakers who come in and present, others will be an open forum, while others can have the group leader speak on a topic that’s relevant to the group. Sometimes, a support group will offer all three of those options depending on the week or day.
It’s important to note that while there may be an open forum at support group meetings, it is not the same as group therapy. Group therapy focuses on the mental health of people and is led by a professional medical provider.
What are the Benefits of a Support Group?
For those who attend support groups, they find there are several benefits to meeting with others who are facing a similar diagnosis. Those with mesothelioma, in particular, have found comfort in joining support groups because in many mesothelioma support groups, doctors will attend and give advice. This platform is also a great opportunity for patients to ask doctors any questions they may have about the diagnosis. Additionally, the support groups are designed for mesothelioma patients, so someone facing that diagnosis can be comforted knowing they’re not alone.
Being in a support group can also improve a patient’s outlook and quality of life. By being part of a program that connects them with others going through similar experiences, it can give emotional support to someone with mesothelioma.
Other benefits of being in a support group can include the patient feeling motivated to take control of their diagnosis. By being around others who are facing similar challenges, it can be encouraging for a patient to see others who are trying to take control of their prognosis and in turn, inspire themselves.
A support group also gives patients a platform to feel less isolated or judged, and talk openly about their feelings. Not having to suppress those emotions is important for a person’s mental health — it allows them to not feel like they are hiding something and can get feelings off their chest.
How to Find Mesothelioma Support Groups
Those looking for a mesothelioma support group can find them in the following ways:
- Talking with a doctor: Doctors or office staff should have on hand the names and information of area support groups or ways you can find a virtual support group.
- Talking with other patients: When receiving treatment, see if other patients are in support groups. That would make it easier, too, when attending a support group session if you already know someone there.
- Search online: By doing an internet search for “mesothelioma support groups,” the patient should be able to not only find local groups near to them, but online as well.
Counseling is another great option for those facing a mesothelioma diagnosis. Unlike support groups, counseling is usually one-on-one. However, there could also be group counseling (or group therapy) sessions a patient could attend.
What Happens During Counseling?
When talking with a counselor, the patient can openly talk about how they’re feeling knowing they’re not being judged. While a person should feel like they aren’t being judged in a support group setting, that person will usually have the option to speak to a professional one-on-one if that is the method they prefer.
A counselor is there to listen to the patient and offer questions to help the patient process through their feelings. For example, if the patient would say they were scared of the future, the counselor could ask the patient to dive deeper into those feelings and then address the root of the feeling.
Counseling sessions usually happen in the counselor’s office, which provides a safe space for a patient to talk about what they’re feeling. Unlike what people see in the movies, most counselors’ offices have regular couches and chairs for whatever a patient is most comfortable sitting in. The environment is supposed to be comfortable to make the patient feel open to talking about what’s on their mind.
Benefits of Counseling
Just like support groups, there are many benefits to counseling. Similar to support groups, counseling offers a way for patients to open up about their fears and uncertainties without the fear of being judged.
Being in counseling can also help a patient better verbalize their thoughts and emotions to others. By being able to express how they feel in a counseling session, it may make it easier for the patient to talk about those same feelings with other family and friends.
Counselors also support patients by empowering them to make decisions and increase the confidence of patients. By validating how a patient feels and encouraging the patient to express their feelings, it will help them as they talk to others about their diagnosis and prognosis.
#3. Spiritual or Faith Support
While not everyone believes in a higher power, many patients find comfort through their faith or spiritual life. Like the other forms of support, spiritual or faith support can come in multiple ways. This could be in the form of attending worship services regularly or speaking with a pastor, rabbi, or spiritual counselor.
Many churches also hold a variety of support groups that focus both on the support of the patient and the spiritual needs. This could be a great outlet for someone who is wanting both the religious and tangible connection for support.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, along with the emotional support that can be provided, they’ll also want a team of lawyers to fight their case. Shrader & Associates L.L.P. has recovered millions of dollars for those suffering from mesothelioma and our team will work hard for the best outcome for you. Contact our office today at (713) 787-3733.