The New Year is often a time to set new goals and make plans. While it is important for mesothelioma patients and their families to fully embrace the present, there are also some goals worth setting, even if the prognosis seems grim. The following six New Year’s resolutions can help ensure the best possible quality of life and treatment outcomes for people battling malignant mesothelioma in 2018.
Resolution #1: Seek out a cancer center with experience in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer, affecting just 2,500 people in the entire US each year. As a result, many physicians have never even seen a single case and may be unfamiliar with evolving best practices in the treatment of asbestos cancer. On the other hand, multiple studies have confirmed that mesothelioma treatment outcomes are consistently better at larger cancer centers with expertise in mesothelioma therapies.
Resolution #2: Consider immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma.
Of all the treatments currently being studied for the treatment of mesothelioma, immunotherapy is consistently producing the most promising results. Clinical trials of immunotherapy drugs such as pembrolizumab (Keytruda), nivolumab (Opdivo), and bevacizumab (Avastin), either alone or in combination with standard chemotherapy, have produced some impressive mesothelioma survival statistics. Some patients have even experienced a reversal of their mesothelioma tumor growth. While not everyone is a candidate for this approach, mesothelioma patients should speak with their doctors about the possibility of immunotherapy treatment and clinical trial participation.
Resolution #3: Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware in any given moment. A recent Dutch study found that patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer experienced much less stress and anxiety when they learned and practiced mindfulness techniques. There is also evidence that the practice of mindfulness may help patients with aggressive cancers like malignant mesothelioma cope with treatment-related pain.
Resolution #4: Stay active and get support.
When a family faces a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, it can be tempting to withdraw from other people and activities in order to put more mental resources into fighting the cancer. But recent evidence suggests that this may be a mistake. Patient support groups – even when they are offered virtually or over the phone – can reduce pain and anxiety and empower patients and families with information. A recent Spanish study found that cancer patients who stayed engaged in rewarding activities were more likely to avoid depression.
Resolution #5: Eat more plant-based foods.
Multiple studies suggest that the phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs may help patients combat malignant mesothelioma and support their bodies during cancer treatment. One of the most recent studies on the link between cancer and nutrition found improved survival among lung cancer patients who scored highest on a nutritional risk assessment. Long-time mesothelioma survivors like Paul Kraus are living proof of the efficacy of this approach. Thanks to a healthy diet and lifestyle, Kraus is still living 20 years after his mesothelioma diagnosis.
Resolution #6: Determine your legal rights.
It can be difficult for families facing the logistics of malignant mesothelioma treatment to take the time to consider the legal ramifications of the disease, too. However, as medical bills climb and financial stress increases, many patients wish they had consulted a mesothelioma legal expert sooner. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers and law firms can also be excellent resources during what is, for many families, a time of unprecedented stress. Click here for more information on finding an appropriate lawyer for your situation.