Caring for a loved one with mesothelioma

Chances are, you noticed the symptoms long before your loved one received the diagnosis. However, once doctors confirmed that your loved one had mesothelioma, it is likely that your world turned upside down. You may still be reeling, looking for answers to your questions and trying to find someone who can support and encourage you as you take on the role of caregiver.

Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos. It may have been years or decades since your loved one’s job involved the use of asbestos or its products, or you may not yet have traced the path back to that fateful exposure. However, the slow-moving cancer as of yet has no cure, and you would do well to prepare yourself for the noble duties that lie ahead.

What your role may include

In many ways, you may have to set aside portions of your life to provide the kind of care your loved one may need, perhaps not right away but certainly in the future. Much of your care will include palliative choices — that is, decisions for relieving your loved one’s pain, keeping up his or her strength, and finding ways to keep your loved one comfortable, including:

  • Learning how to administer prescription medications
  • Assisting with basic hygiene and exercise
  • Planning and preparing healthy and appealing meals
  • Assisting your loved one with eating
  • Taking care of household chores, such as laundry and cleaning
  • Managing your loved one’s financial affairs if you also have power of attorney
  • Transporting your loved one to medical appointments

You may also be the voice of your loved one when it comes to communicating with health care providers. Through your descriptions of new symptoms, updates on how treatments are affecting your loved one and relevant questions about your concerns, your doctor may have a better perspective for future options, and your loved one may have greater peace of mind.

Caring for the caregiver

Caring for a terminally ill loved one can be physically, emotionally and financially draining. It is critical that you take advantage of local resources in North Carolina that may offer assistance and guidance for avoiding burnout. Burnout can quickly result in your inability to provide quality and compassionate care for your loved one as well as increase your risk of physical and mental illness. Sometimes, just a few moments a day for meditation, healthy eating, physical exercise and contact with others may be enough to revive your spirit.