When you are familiar with a situation and work closely with people working on the same problem, sometimes you assume things are further along. Like with mesothelioma. I see breakthroughs in treatments for mesothelioma patients every day, yet I still see patients who are told their disease is too far along for any care other than palliative chemotherapy.
Their local doctor is telling them something they truly believe, and from their own experience it appears to be accurate. Possibly that doctor’s experience is limited by the lack of mesothelioma patients he or she has treated. With only 2,500-3,000 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, only doctors at specialty centers can build their knowledge and experience through treating numerous patients.
This past week, I saw a man who was told by his local doctor to have chemotherapy because that was his only choice to extend what little time they had to offer. The patient was overwhelmed and frightened by this prognosis. He chose to seek another opinion. Through research, he found a mesothelioma center that was close to him, and decided to travel to see a specialist.
Here he was told something very different. He was told he was operable, and his disease was not advanced and he had a good chance in resuming his life as he knows it. Well, that was music to his ears. He would endure a 6-8 hour surgery and a recovery that could be difficult and painful.
He traveled alone and took on this surgery that was a gamble. He followed his medical instructions to the letter, and 10 days later is out of the hospital and is recovering from his surgery.
He is now joined by a family member. During our visit he was so pleased that he chose this option. He was planning on weaning himself off the pain medicine and was making plans to return home. His appetite and spirits are good. He is anxious to return home, but he is patient and will continue with the discharge plan.
I urge anyone reading this, who has not seen a mesothelioma specialist, to please get a second opinion about this disease. Hopefully, you will find an expert. There is a lot of information on the internet and there are many experts listed. Ask your primary care physician for the name of an expert. This is your life and you need to find the best options possible.
Medicine and science are evolving every day. There is still is no cure, there are more options than ever before. Sometimes we all need to remember that mesothelioma is a rare aggressive disease, and seeking out a second opinion at a mesothelioma center might give you and your loved ones peace of mind and a longer life.