Every year in the United States, more than 2,000 people lose their fight with mesothelioma. This is a very aggressive cancer that is typically not diagnosed until it’s advanced. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the treatment options are limited.
In most cases, patients will die within a year after the tumor spreads to their organs, causing them to shut down. Shortly before death, mesothelioma patients may experience:
- Shallow breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inability to eat or drink
- Blurry vision
- Decreased hearing
- Short attention span
Mesothelioma also suppresses the immune system. This can result in the inability to tolerate treatments. The end stages of the cancer are painful, but new treatments are in development that can allow some patients to lead longer, more comfortable lives.
How to Manage Mesothelioma Pain
Another topic that is worth researching is pain management. Pain is often one of the first signs of mesothelioma, and it will worsen as the disease progresses. Fluid builds up and presses against your organs. In addition to this, the tumors are spreading and growing larger.
Typically mesothelioma patients will experience intense pressure and pain in your abdomen or chest. As you move through the stages of this destructive cancer, it may spread to your muscles and bones, causing even more pain. If you’re suffering, speak to your doctor about your pain management options. These may include:
- Palliative therapy
- Pain medication
- Surgical procedures
- Alternative therapies
It’s likely that you will end up receiving some sort of pain medication. During the early stages this could be something as minor as Tylenol. In later stages, you may progress to lidocaine patches, mild opioids, or ketamine. In the final stage, you may end up on a morphine drip.
Much of your care and pain management will focus on palliative treatments that are meant to keep you as comfortable as possible rather than curing your cancer. Pleural mesothelioma is not curable at any stage.
Prognoses Are Improving
How long you or a loved one may live after a mesothelioma diagnosis depends on where your tumors are, what type of cell is involved, and your age and general health. Thanks to new diagnostic methods and experimental treatment, the prognosis for many patients have improved over the last several years.
Earlier diagnosis may mean you’ll have more time left, but even when it’s caught at stage one, there is no cure for mesothelioma. No matter what you’ve seen online, at this time, the prognosis for mesothelioma when it’s caught at any stage is always going to be fatal.
Beware of Scams
You may have seen paid ads or received emails claiming to be written by people who have survived melanoma and want to sell you products to do the same. Everything from a “miracle garlic cure” to supplements are pushed on mesothelioma patients.
The truth is, these so-called miracle cures are not FDA regulated or approved, and at best they are completely worthless. These products will not ease your pain or extend your lifespan. Instead, all they will do is drain your wallet. They may also cost you precious time that you could have spent seeking out more effective treatments.
When to Contact a Lawyer
Another thing that may make you go broke are costly mesothelioma treatments. Between radiation, chemo, and surgery, your treatments can cost as much as $12,000 per month. Even if you have insurance, your copays and deductible will quickly add up.
If you believe your mesothelioma was caused by exposure on the job or through a product like talc baby powder, you may want to consider speaking to an attorney. If you want more information about lawsuits or about mesothelioma testing, you can follow this link to speak to the mesothelioma lawyers at pintas.com.
When you pass away from mesothelioma, your family may be able to sue for wrongful death. Even if you didn’t have time or energy to file a lawsuit, if you believe your condition was caused by a company’s negligence your survivors can seek justice on your behalf.
How to Cope With Your Fears
Learning as much as you can about what you’ll need to do to prepare for the end stages of mesothelioma can help you cope with your fear of the unknown. Whether it’s your own death or the death of a loved one you fear, educating yourself about what you can expect will mean you won’t be caught off-guard and unprepared.
The more you know about your pain management options and what you can expect during the death process, the better prepared you’ll be to handle what comes next. If you’re a caregiver to someone who is dying of mesothelioma, this is also your chance to get your support team together and to buy any equipment you may need later on.
What Happens in Hospice Care
Since those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often given a year to live, hospice care is one alternative many people choose. You can go into hospice care once you’ve got six months to live. Many families appreciate hospice because it focuses on the quality of life of the terminally ill patient.
Hospice care is a family-centered alternative that can often be done in the comfort of your own home. You can also receive hospice care in an in-patient facility that has equipment and workers who are trained to meet your needs. This type of care focuses on who you are as a person rather than your illness.
The hospice care team will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you and your family members can call them whenever you need them. They do not provide medical care, but they’ll work together with pharmacists, doctors, and other professionals to make sure your last days are the best they can be.
No matter how much time you’ve had to prepare for the end of life, it can still be difficult to deal with your feelings. The hospice staff will be there to guide you and your family through this time. They can offer you grief therapy and other resources to help you cope and say goodbye.