Hearing the news that you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma can be devastating both for you and your loved ones. This aggressive form of cancer mostly shows up as subtle signs or symptoms that mimic chest infections or heart problems. These symptoms often make early detection challenging. By the time the cancer is diagnosed, it has already spread to surrounding organs and progressed to advanced stages.
Mesothelioma cancer has only a 12% 5-year survival rate, and its prognosis remains challenging. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help you improve your quality of life and life expectancy.
Although you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain upon receiving your diagnosis, it’s important to remember that your battle against mesothelioma begins here. Here’s what you need to do after your diagnosis.
- Find Out the Cause of Cancer
Mesothelioma typically develops in the thin lining that covers the most vital organs of your body – the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Besides the current stage of mesothelioma, the cause of this cancer greatly decides your life expectancy and treatment options.
The primary cause of this cancer is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that was once widely used in construction and manufacturing materials. If you’ve worked in industries like construction, shipbuilding, US Navy, manufacturing, and mining, the asbestos exposure probably occurred at your workplace. On the other hand, people who have family members working in asbestos-related jobs or those living near factories or shipyards can also develop mesothelioma.
- Hire a Competent Attorney
If asbestos exposure occurred due to the nature of your job, you’re entitled to financial compensation from the employer. Hire a competent and credible law firm like Simmons Law Firm, which specializes in mesothelioma-related lawsuits. An experienced attorney will help you explore all your legal options and find undeniable evidence to support your case. They will conduct a thorough investigation and look for all the liable parties that may be responsible for asbestos exposure resulting in mesothelioma. They will gather the essential information, including medical records, employment history, evidence of the use of asbestos, and other crucial information to validate your claim.
- Be Mindful of Statutes of Limitations
Before you file a mesothelioma lawsuit against liable parties or employers, it’s important to understand statutes of limitations. This is because it determines the timeframe within which you must file your claim. If you somehow fail to file your claim within this timeframe, you will be essentially barred from taking legal action against the liable party. Moreover, you may also lose your right to compensation.
It’s also important to understand that statutes of limitations vary from state to state. In some states, the statutes of limitations start from the date of exposure, while other states consider the date of mesothelioma diagnosis as the start date. Additionally, the statutes of limitations vary depending on the type of claim. In a personal injury claim, individuals typically have two to three years to file a claim, while wrongful death claims can be filed within two to six years from the date of the individual’s demise.
- Get Appropriate Medical Treatment
Alongside your legal course of action, the most crucial step after your mesothelioma diagnosis is to get the best possible medical treatment. Mesothelioma typically causes a range of symptoms that can sometimes be unbearable. You may experience sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive weight loss, agonizing stomachache, abrupt weight loss, and unending fatigue. However, timely mesothelioma treatment will help you ease the symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
Besides managing symptoms, mesothelioma treatment may help slow its progression and extend your life expectancy. The treatment options include tumor removal through surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy using drugs, and tumor-treating fields (TTF). These treatments kill cancer cells and slow down cell division.
However, bear in mind that the outcomes of treatment can vary from individual to individual. They also depend on the stage of mesothelioma and its spread to other organs.
- Stay on Top of Your Mental Health
Being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer can be upsetting. You may be overflowing with mixed emotions of sadness, anger, and the fear of the unknown. You may be angry at the people or companies that exposed you to asbestos or at the unfairness of your situation. The fear of pain and suffering, or even death, quickly takes control of your life and may start affecting your mental health.
However, keep in mind that immense shock, disbelief, and melancholy are all normal reactions to such diseases and life-threatening situations. Although it’s human nature to feel overwhelmed, a prolonged state of depression and fear can severely affect both your physical and mental health. Research shows that your emotional well-being significantly affects the outcomes of your treatment as well as your overall physical health.
It’s important to find healthy ways to cope with the agitation and emotional upheaval and stay on top of your mental health during these stressful times. Talk to an experienced mental health professional or therapist who can guide you on coping strategies and emotional support.
- Maintain Regular Medical Monitoring
Unfortunately, the only way to manage mesothelioma is to get regular medical checkups and monitor the progress of the disease. Maintain close communication with your multidisciplinary medical team and supportive care professionals. Try to stick to the treatment plan and scheduled appointments. If you notice any changes in your symptoms or side effects from treatment, be sure to get in touch with your healthcare provider and report these changes. This will help your healthcare provider identify any potential complications and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
A mesothelioma diagnosis can be shocking and distressing, but your will to fight back and take on this challenge can drastically change the course of this disease. The first step back to life is going for an early treatment and getting the right support.
With the help of your medical support team and the right lawyers, you can get through this difficult time in your life.