Special Needs of a Mesothelioma Patient that a Caregiver Needs to Know

by Senior Care Society on 07/17/2012 - 07:31 pm

Tag: Caregiver Advice

In order to be an effective caregiver for a mesothelioma patient, you must understand mesothelioma and the special needs associated with this disease. Caregiving involves challenging responsibilities that can only be accomplished after you understand the cancer, the special needs and the obligations of the role.


Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure. Nearly 3,000 Americans die each year from this disease, with most cases having limited effective treatment options available at the time of diagnosis. This cancer is often diagnosed at stage III or IV because the symptoms don’t commonly manifest until later stages of development.


Mesothelioma Patients’ Special Needs

Mesothelioma cancer patients have unique needs that need to be addressed, many of which are caused by the reality that the cancer is rare. Some special needs that are fairly unique to mesothelioma patients include:


Finding active clinical trials: Unlike other cancers with more successful treatment options, some mesothelioma patients have to undergo experimental treatments through clinical trials because many traditional methods prove unsuccessful. These trials often include experimental drugs, riskier surgical procedures or the use of unproven technologies. Finding these trials is not easy because they are typically offered at select medical facilities and include specific participation criteria.


Transportation to mesothelioma-focused treatment centers: Because mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease, specialists are harder to come by compared to lung cancer specialists, for example. Traveling to these treatment centers is not always easy when they are not located within driving distance from the patient.  Caregivers should consider scheduling transportation and lodging when needed.


End-of-life planning: Unlike other diseases where treatments are known to be effective, mesothelioma is known for low survival rates and relatively ineffective treatment options. Financial matters, medical care decisions and any other end-of-life decisions should be made earlier in the treatment process so the patient’s wishes can be catered to.


Each of these activities requires tremendous help on the part of the caregiver, as well as the patient. By considering all the long-term needs of the patient, a caregiver and the patient’s family can properly execute on the special needs of the patient.     



Caregiver Responsibilities to Address the Patient’s Needs

Being a caregiver requires sacrifice, dedication, selflessness and tolerance. There are common tasks and obligations associated with this role, and some additional unique responsibilities that come along with caregiving for the special needs of a mesothelioma patient.


Having the right expectations of the duties involved will help you cater to the special needs of a mesothelioma patient. Some of the responsibilities include:

  • Cleaning around the house and helping to cook meals
  • Planning the necessary travel and lodging associated with treatments
  • Organizing and scheduling medicine regimens and helping to administer drugs 
  • Assisting with financial and personal planning, protecting the patient’s end-of-life plans

These caregiving duties can become overwhelming at times and it is extremely normal to feel that way. Consider getting emotional and physical support from others, including friends, family and support groups. Your well-being as a caregiver is critical because your lack of health will directly affect the care that you can provide to the mesothelioma patient.


Mark Hall is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. Between his interests in environmental health and his writing experience, Mark is committed to communicating relevant news and information regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure and breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatments.