Following diagnosis, uppermost among-st a patient’s thoughts will be these…”Am I going to die?”, “Will I be in much pain?”. As there is no cure for mesothelioma it is important that the patient is advised that with modern treatment they can, for months or years, live a normal life for most of the time. And that the modern drugs are very effective at keeping pain under control and relieving it.
Obviously the treatment aspect is extremely important and the patient and close relatives must ensure that they get the consultant and doctors to explain comprehensively how it is all going to work. It is advisable to compile a list of questions to put to the medical staff prior to any appointments or consultations and to get a relative or close friend to go along with the patient.
I would advise taking a look on the internet for information about the disease and printing out relevant bits. I did this when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. When I showed the consultant what I had been studying, I sensed a more open discussion and perhaps a few more technical details were covered that otherwise might not have been.
There is no harm in taking notes with you and you might even consider taping the discussion. These are potentially highly stressful and upsetting meetings which might mean that you don’t remember all that was said. You’ll want to know where and when the treatments will take place.
Include questions about possible side effects and the range and type of drugs they will be taking. And how the drugs will be taken, injection, by mouth, intravenous etc.
Difficulties arise when a question is asked about how long the patient has got to live. It is impossible for the doctor to predict the future exactly for an individual patient and they would be putting unnecessary pressure on themselves if they did. This uncertainty is not good for the patient and vague answers never satisfy anyone. I would push the doctor for an educated guess based on his experience and the results he has at hand. This is only my opinion. I would want to know if I’ve got months (which could be two or three) or years (which could be 12 months).
Fears can often be worse than reality. That is why it is important to collate as much knowledge about the illness and disease as possible. Discussing this new knowledge with friends and relatives can help relieve the stress as the treatment progresses.