Receiving a diagnosis of any serious illness will have a major impact upon you – nobody expects you to be ‘superman/ woman’ and to take the news in your stride – you will experience a number of emotions. Having a diagnosis of mesothelioma means that you will have been hit with some hard news. Your life span may have suddenly been curtailed. You and your family , if you have one around you, will initially be in a state of shock – questioning yourselves as to whether you heard right!
As you and those close to you come to terms with the diagnosis – do remember that although you may feel alone – you are not alone! AASC and others are here to offer help, support and a listening ear to help you cope with the range of emotions that you are going through. You may find yourself going through stages of grief as you feel that your life is being taken away from you.
The five stages of grief are:
Denial and Anger
It is quite normal to feel angry and to be in denial on first hearing your diagnosis of mesothelioma and to look for someone to blame – “Why me?” As the disease progresses you may come to believe that you are a burden on your family and you begin to feel guilty that you cannot contribute to looking after your family, or that you can no longer hold down paid employment. You will also build up anger feelings as you wish to lash out at someone.
You may begin to try and make bargains in a vain attempt to halt the progress of the disease so for example , you may say that if you did something differently or lived a changed life in the hope that the illness will go away. This is quite common as we try to make sense of why we have been struck down by a terrible illness.
Remember that the illness is not your personal fault and not your choice, and that you have not let anyone down, but you need to talk about how you are feeling and not bottle up your thoughts.
You have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness – of course you may become depressed! You could experience mood swings, huge sadness, tirednesss and feel a great emptiness within yourself. If these feelings continue for a long time you must alert your family doctor, consultant, specialist nurse or social worker, give us a call at AASC. Talk about the them – share your feelings. It may be strategies will be put in place to help you cope with whatever is dragging you down.
You and your family should reach a point when you accept your current state of health. You may experience fear of death or you may recognise it as being inevitable. Spend your time thinking fondly of the good times in your life and if there is something you would like to do see if it can be arranged for you to do it. Many people write ‘A Bucket List’ that is a list of things which they want to do before they die. This can include things like staying in a village in Powys, going to see Snowdon, going to Barafundle Beach in Pembrokeshire, baking a chocolate cake, or reading a special book.
Be prepared, make sure all your paperwork is in order. Make sure that your will is up to date. It may be that you would like to raise awareness about mesothelioma and how it can be caused and get in touch with others who are going through the illness so that you can give support to each other. Get in touch with us here at AASC.
Once you have made sense of your emotions and reached a better understanding of your illness, your quality of life should be improved.
Practical issues may be easily resolved so that they do not prey on your mind.
- Getting to your appointments and overnight stays.
- Financial concerns
- Concerns about paid work
- Concerns about getting children to school
- Making meals and buying and preparing food.
- Help with daily activities
- Language and cultural differences – the language of those around you may be different to yours.
- Getting help for caregiver and maybe for other family members – you may have elderly dependents.
Making connections with others and sharing your concerns with AASC may help to resolve these practical challenges. Unless you tell someone nobody is going to know.
Existing emotional problems
If you are diagnosed with a life limiting illness such as mesothelioma any existing personal problems could be heightened. Such as:
- Severe depression
- Panic Attacks
- Substance misuse
- Personality disorders
There are professionals available who should be able to help you cope with any magnification of these difficulties. Do give us a call at AASC so that we can point you in the right direction.