In hospice, we treat patients from all walks of life with a wide variety of life-limiting conditions. One such illness is mesothelioma — a relatively rare form of cancer. The Mesothelioma Center recently reached out to Solari to help them raise awareness about this devastating disease and how hospice can help. We’re honored to assist with this important cause by hosting a guest blog by Faith Franz …
Hi, Solari Hospice readers! I’m Faith – the Health and Wellness blogger at The Mesothelioma Center. Today, Solari has given me the opportunity to share a bit of the information that we are so passionate about bringing to the cancer community.
As our name suggests, we mainly focus on mesothelioma advocacy. This disease is relatively rare, with about 3,000 new diagnoses each year within the United States. Even though that number is low in relation to other cancers, we understand the massive impact that mesothelioma can have on a patient and their loves ones.
Seniors are most commonly affected by mesothelioma. Most of these seniors came into contact with asbestos (the leading cause of mesothelioma) decades ago, when they were in the workforce. Some employees – such as asbestos industry workers – may be aware of their exposure, while others – like teachers or hairdressers – may not have known that they were encountering a major carcinogen. Our occupational exposure directory can help you find out if your former industry or employer put you at risk for asbestos exposure.
Not everyone who came into contact with asbestos will develop mesothelioma. However, those who do develop the disease experience an often debilitating set of symptoms. These symptoms include chest pain, coughing and difficulty breathing.
These symptoms usually develop in the later stages of the disease. Because patients are often diagnosed in stage III or IV, we encourage them to find treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible. Early treatment gives patients the best shot at beating the average one-year prognosis. Our Doctor Match Program helps patients find leading mesothelioma surgeons and oncologists, while our Patient Advocates help patients navigate the treatment and recovery process.
In some instances, mesothelioma tumors do not always respond well to treatment. Many patients who have exhausted their potentially curative options turn to hospice organizations for palliative care.
What Hospice can Do for Mesothelioma Patients
Hospice care provides symptom control and health monitoring for mesothelioma patients with a life expectancy of less than six months. During this time, hospice workers provide pain medications and other palliative therapies to bring patients’ symptoms down to a more manageable level.
Most hospice organizations also provide emotional, spiritual and psychosocial support. Patients can connect with a number of trained volunteers, including:
- Non-denominational religious leaders
- Social workers
- Support group leaders
These emotional health services can help mesothelioma patients cope with the fear, anxiety or other stressors they may be experiencing. Hospice organizations often extend these services to the patients’ loved ones, serving a valuable support role as the family comes to terms with the mesothelioma diagnosis.
Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.