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Comparing Your Mesothelioma with Another Patient’s May Not be Helpful

On Black Friday a lot of people shop, but only after they study the ads and plan out carefully where they are going and what they will buy. For some, it is a fun tradition that kicks off the start of their holiday shopping. For others, it is the comparison shopping and the hunt of a bargain that drives them. Mesothelioma patients often prepare for their treatment in much the same way – studying articles, stories and their treatment options. However, many also compare their mesothelioma with other patients.

Recently, I heard two mesothelioma patients discussing their experiences. Knowing that both had different types of mesothelioma, had different therapy, and were at different stages in their journey, I was surprised at what they had taken away from their experience so far. It is understandable that people want to compare how they are progressing with someone else that also has mesothelioma, but it is important to keep in mind that everyone’s case is different.

There are many studies that support the importance of support groups in dealing with life-threatening diseases. The groups can provide a lifeline and much needed hope to the patient, family, and caregivers during this time. Many survivors of mesothelioma have had more of a positive impact on patients and families than just about anything or anyone else.

It is important to remember that mesothelioma comes in different sizes and shapes. The location of the primary site of the tumor can be pleural (lung), the most common making up around 85% of malignant mesotheliomas; peritoneal (abdomen) comprising around 5% of tumors; and pericardial and testicular, both very rare, making up the other potential cancer sites. Once the location, is identified the type is tested for either epithelial, sarcomatoid or mixed. Once identified, the disease is staged by biopsy of the surrounding lymph nodes. From there the results are compiled and the best treatment is suggested. Some possibilities include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, complementary therapy, or alternative therapy.

Like the bargains on Black Friday, remember that your specific mesothelioma is different than someone else’s, and that different people respond differently to treatments. Just because a treatment modality did not work for someone else, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Be positive and trust your treatment team.

Mesothelioma is no bargain. But neither is advice that is not accurate. Take a lesson from the expert shoppers, compare and study all the facts about what you might accept as fact, and hunt for information from reliable sources.

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