Report: Virtual support critical for mesothelioma victims

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is a devastating experience for the approximately 2,500 people who are diagnosed every year in the United States and their families. This rare cancer affects people who have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos at work, in their home or in other environments where precautions were not taken to protect people from breathing in the toxic fiber.

The physical toll that mesothelioma can take on a person can be catastrophic. But victims also suffer socially and psychologically as a result of their illness. Reports suggest people in this situation experience serious anxiety and isolation because of their diagnosis, which can make it even more difficult to cope. Researchers recently set out to determine if there are ways of helping to ease the stress stemming from mesothelioma and believe they may have identified an important resource: virtual support.

According to reports, the researchers launched peer-to-peer communities online for victims of mesothelioma. The network is said to give patients an arena to share their experiences, reach out for help and speak with other people who are in the same position. In addition to the shared medical and health experiences, many of the community members have also taken legal action against negligent parties, and they were able to provide critical support to each other in this area as well.

Researchers say that participants in the community reported feeling an increased connectedness and empowerment which had a positive effect on the stress many of them have been struggling with. Psychosocially, the report suggests, the online group had a very positive impact on participants by giving them a place to feel supported by others who have an idea of what they are going through.

The importance of support and understanding cannot be overstated when it comes to victims of a devastating illness like mesothelioma. Victims can benefit significantly with the help of doctors and other health professionals, family members and other victims of asbestos-related illnesses. For those who also wish to take legal action, an attorney familiar with their situation can also be a valuable member of this support group.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, May 9, 2014