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Facing the Fear that Comes with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma Warrior Faces Declining Health

Fear is a unique emotion. It can be crippling or liberating. It can drive you to do better, or it can inhibit all progress. It can bring families together and unite them against a disease, or it can isolate patients with depression and anxiety. As a health care provider, I have seen this emotion take many forms.

According to researchers, there are three major cancer-related fears: the fear of death, the fear of recurrence, and the fear of stigma, which is the fear of being different, being treated differently and being thought of differently.

Knowing about fear, what triggers it in you, and why you react the way you do can help you deal with it. One mesothelioma patient described to me the sleepless nights she faces leading to her yearly check-up. Every possible scenario goes through her head, she is sure that she will be admitted to the hospital and suffer a long painful, debilitating death, far away from family and friends. When this does not happen she is able to put her fears aside until the next check up. What helps her get through this? She has started writing a journal and reading what she has written in the past. This has helped her realize she has been down this road before and come out okay on the other side.

I recently received a phone call from a patient’s wife, whose husband had a recurrence of his cancer. When her husband was diagnosed their world was, understandably, shattered. They had gone through his treatments and had reached a “new normal” in their lives. Although upset about the recurrence, they both felt they were coping better because of their past experiences from initial diagnosis through all the treatments.

It helps to become an expert on your health and mesothelioma to give you some control over a very frightening time that feels totally uncontrollable. Take the fear and learn about it, recognize it and acknowledge it.

In the past, mesothelioma was seen as a “death sentence.” Even with the progress and the encouraging results that many patients have had, the diagnosis and treatment can lead to changes at work, within your family, and in your daily routine. Not wanting your roles in your life to change can also contribute to fear – fear that you will be treated differently.

Mesothelioma, and any cancer, diagnosis is frightening and scary. Learning what triggers your fear and the basis of it can help you better deal with it. Reach out and get some professional help if needed to help you deal with all you are going through. You are not alone!

If you have any questions about any aspect of your mesothelioma care, please email me at [email protected].

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