A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating, but after the initial shock, sadness, and gloom and doom scenarios are absorbed, the best thing a patient can do is stand up and look around.
There is reason for optimism today. It is no time to give up or give in. The prognosis for mesothelioma may sound grim, but there are exceptions every day, and progress is being made in the treatment of this disease.
There are mesothelioma patients living three, four, five and even 10 years after their diagnosis. Miracles happen, too.
Survivors all agree the key is staying positive.
“I tell people, I got mesothelioma, but mesothelioma doesn’t have me — not yet anyway,” said Rich Delisle, a three-year mesothelioma survivor from Florida. “I try to stay positive, and stay active. The worst thing you can do is sit around feeling sorry for yourself. We had our pity party at first, but then we moved on.”
Many of the survivors who share their story with The Mesothelioma Center give similar advice to newly diagnosed patients who come searching for answers. Some of the keys points they make:
Surround yourself with positive people, whether it’s family or friends. Stop them quickly when the talk turns negative.
Embrace your faith, and rekindle your religious convictions. Prayer works wonders sometimes, especially when the number of people praying for you starts to grow.
Stay active physically. Exercise regularly, even when you’d rather not. It’s not easy during treatment when fatigue gets the best of you, but force yourself to do something every day. Take a walk. No matter how slow you move, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch. And it feels good when you stop.
Eat healthy. Diets can be tailored to individual needs, and it’s surprising how much better you will feel.
Accept the help of others. Don’t try and do this alone. No matter how tough you may be, and no matter how independent you once were, let others into your life to help with chores that may have once been routine. Now these chores may seem overwhelming.
Pull out that bucket list and start doing the things you always wanted to do, but never seemed to have the time. Take that vacation. Drive across the country. Play that golf course you always wanted to play. Ride in a hot-air balloon.
Take an aggressive approach to cancer treatment. Ask questions, and get answers. Be a fighter.
“I tell people all the time, ‘Life is a gift.’ And I love it more than anything,” said mesothelioma survivor Trina Clark, from Michigan. “So much with cancer is the attitude you take. You have to stay positive. You have to believe you can beat it. Just don’t let it win. Don’t sit there and dwell on what you can’t control. Learn from it.”
Although doctors once recommended limiting physical activity during cancer treatment, there is growing evidence now to support the stay-active mantra. Exercise actually reduces the fatigue caused by cancer or the side effects from chemotherapy.
It also reduces anxiety and helps with self-esteem. It adds to that positive feel that has become so important in the fight. Mind-body therapies, such as yoga and simple stretching, can work wonders.