A mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating for those suffering with the disease and family members alike. The nature of the illness is aggressive, and there is currently no cure. The quality of life for a mesothelioma patient can decrease significantly and quickly as the cancer spreads throughout the body. One of the most frustrating aspects to mesothelioma is that the disease is entirely preventable, yet kills more than 3,000 people in the United States each year. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure and because of this, mesothelioma is often referred to as asbestos cancer.
Many who worked with asbestos often do not connect their cancer to asbestos exposure because of the long latency period associated with asbestos injuries. It may be 20 years or more between the time of exposure and disease progression. Many who are diagnosed are often surprised by their diagnosis, having no idea that they even worked with asbestos or that there were dangers involved.
Dealing with the emotional aspects of a diagnosis is difficult, but there are many supportive resources that deal with finding and surrounding yourself with emotional support as you move forward with a cancer diagnosis. Support resources allow cancer patients to share their stories, increase understanding, and build strength. Below is a list compiled by MesotheliomaCenter for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases looking to contact others who are in similar situations:
- Anderson Network, University of Texas
The Anderson Network is a support network of more than 1,300 current and former cancer patients.
- Cancer Hope Network
Cancer Hope Network provides free, confidential, one-on-one support to people with cancer and their families. We match patients with trained volunteers who have themselves undergone a similar experience.
- Cancer Survivors Network Discussion Boards: Lung Cancer | Colorectal Cancer | Other & Rare Cancers
This message board, through the American Cancer Society, offers patients and survivors of cancer a way to talk and further their understanding of the disease.
HealthBoards: Lung Cancer | Colorectal Cancer | General Cancer
Moderated online message board where individuals can discuss lung and cancers.
Taking advantage of the many national and local support groups available to people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can help open the lines of communication, and ease the emotional toll of diagnosis.