Many factors can influence a mesothelioma patient’s survival time. Finding the right hospital and medical professional to guide the treatment plan and to proactively manage the care is the strongest weapon in fighting the disease and improving your outcome. Due to the relative rarity of mesothelioma among the general population, it is recommended that mesothelioma treatment be led by a mesothelioma specialist rather than by a primary physician. Medical professionals that specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma patients realize that with a collaborative and multi-modal treatment approach patients have more options available to them. Mesothelioma specialists are aware of the latest research and are able to develop a more informed treatment plan. In many cases, the mesothelioma specialist will develop the protocol and will supervise its implementation even as the patient still meets with his or her personal doctor. Mesothelioma has a unique set of treatment requirements and specialists serve a key role in interpreting and defining the best approach for caring for the patient.
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.
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.