When you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will have a team of medical professionals who will help you through your journey with cancer. After you select your specialist, you will be assigned a large group of cancer experts who will be by your side and available to you throughout your treatments. I will explain to you what kind of team we have where I work.
First of all, you have to prepare for your first appointment. Typically there is a new patient orientation that takes place on the same day as your initial visit with your physician. It can definitely be overwhelming, and there are a lot of things to do and faces to remember. But keep in mind that you can always ask questions, and it is a good idea to bring a list of them with you. In fact, one thing you should bring with you is a notebook or folder – something that is secure and can hold medical records and critical information.
The group that runs the orientation phase of the program is led by our social worker and chaplaincy service. In this brief session, they will review options to help make your journey as smooth as possible. For instance, they may be able to assist with housing options if you are out of state and need assistance. Also, they can help with paperwork filing for disability travel arrangements. If desired, they can connect you with another patient who has already traveled down this road. You will meet other patients and families who are at the same stage of life that you are: shock and disbelief.
Finally, the doctor comes in and gives a brief PowerPoint presentation about his program and explains in detail how the program works. There is time for question and answers, but by no means does this take the place of an individual appointment about your specific case. You will also be given a battery of tests and assessments about your emotional and physical health, and your needs. Do try to remember that the better picture the team has of you, the better they can handle your case. The program really caters to the needs of the individual patient.
The stage of your disease will determine your treatment plan. Possibly you will undergo chemotherapy or surgery. This is where you will be introduced to an oncologist if chemotherapy is the option. A nurse will help with your appointments and help educate you about the process. Palliative care could possibly help to improve your quality of life. If you are experiencing pain or anxiety, this will also be addressed. Many people like to choose alternative therapies and some centers offer support for this as well. Where I work, we have a Reiki specialist that can help alleviate anxiety and help you to relax. There is a chaplaincy that is available as well.
A nutritionist is provided to help improve your overall status whether it is to help you gain weight or to help you choose more nutritious food. Possibly you are having difficulty swallowing, and if so, they can help you choose foods that are easier to consume. There are many professionals that you will be involved with, but remember, this is all for you so take advantage of these resources and make the most of them.
If you have questions about your mesothelioma treatment or any aspect of your mesothelioma case, feel free to contact us.