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How to Cope with Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma is an aggressive, deadly, and rare form of a malignant tumor. It is a form of cancer occurring in the thin layer of tissues or inner linings of the heart, abdomen, or lungs. This type of cancer is usually caused due to inhalation and exposure to asbestos. The average life expectancy of patients suffering from mesothelioma is 12-21 months after the diagnosis. Some of the symptoms following this form of cancer include chest pain, shortness of breath, unexplainable weight loss, nausea, and much more. Treatment options are available and can also improve prognosis. Surgery, chemotherapy or radiation is procedures used to treat patients with mesothelioma.

Here are some of the side effects of Mesothelioma medications:

  • Fatigue: It is one of the most common and constant side effects of cancer patients that makes them feel exhausted all the time.
  • Vomiting & Nausea: This may occur immediately after the administration of the drugs or develop over several days while receiving medication.
  • Mouth Sores: Drugs used in chemotherapy medication can damage the cells in the mouth. It can cause problems in a patient’s gums and teeth.
  • Hair Loss: It is another common side effect of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, it cannot be treated.
  • Chemo Brain: This can cause forgetfulness, blurry memory, and other cognitive impairments.
  • Loss in Blood Count: Drugs in chemotherapy trigger a decrease in white blood cell counts, platelets, and red blood cells.

The treatment involved can cause excessive tiredness in patients. Rest is necessary for all. Listed are some steps mesothelioma patients can follow to get better sleep:

  1. Seek the assistance of a sleep specialist. If insomnia truly impairs the patient, consider seeing a medical doctor or sleep specialist for a full health workup. This is important because patients with mesothelioma and chronic insomnia may have a secondary condition like narcolepsy, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome that prevents them from getting restful sleep. A sleep specialist can help patients figure out if other health issues are causing his insomnia. Most physicians may require a sleep study to evaluate the patient’s oxygen levels, snoring and breathing patterns and more. This is done using sensors while the person is sleeping.
  • Get Moving During the Day: Engaging in physical activities like dancing, walking, swimming, cycling for an hour or more before bedtime can help individuals maintain cardiovascular health and get better sleep. Physical activities improve sleep and can help reduce stress. Calming activities like meditation or yoga can be beneficial, too. These activities can improve one’s health, sleep and help individuals cope with stress and frustration so they’re better equipped to handle their illness.  
  • Take a warm water bath or shower: Taking a warm water bath or shower before going to bed is an effective way to soothe sore body muscles and alleviate joint pain. These activities can also minimize stress and help the mesothelioma patient relax. Plus, after a warm bath or shower, an individual’s body’s heart rate, digestion, and breathing rate slows down and the body is naturally prepared for a deep and restful sleep. However, timing the patient’s bath thirty minutes to one hour before bed is extremely important.
  • Relax before going to bed: After the patient enjoys a warm bath, they can also engage in relaxing activities. For instance, they can enjoy a warm cup of tea, listen to soothing music or read a good book before bed. These activities can really help their body and minds relax. Plus, these activities can help their bodies shift into sleep mode. Meditation or a relaxing activity can help calm the patient’s mind. Additionally, the patient should have a comfortable mattress and pillows, too. These sleep aids will support their bodies and provide them with a relaxing sleeping posture. After all, a bad posture can disturb their sleep and break their sleep cycle, too. Additionally, their bed should have no allergens that can negatively impact their sleep patterns.
  • Avoid using electronics before bed. If possible, the patient should avoid watching television or using electronic devices, like cell phones and tablets before bed. These devices emit blue light can disrupt your natural circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycles.
  • Creating a Soothing Ambience: There are many ways to create a soothing ambiance when you’re getting ready for bed. For instance, patients can use a white noise machine, nightlamp, adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, or using a sleep mask or earplugs can help you create a healthy sleep environment. A patient’s bedroom should be suitable for sleeping. Researchers suggest a temperature between 60-67 degrees can help patients fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Ensuring that the bedroom is noise-free is also very important to enable the patient to fall and stay asleep. Anything that can disrupt their sleep should be kept out of the bedroom. Don’t be afraid to use curtains to block any lights that can impact the individual’s sleep patterns. A cool, dark and quiet bedroom is ideal for a good sleep.
  • Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Following the same sleep routine, every night can work wonders for improving the patients quality of sleep. This includes going to bed at the same time each night. In order to prepare for sleep, individuals can create a soothing ambiance, as we discussed earlier. For instance, they can turn down the lights, listen to some relaxing movie or read a good book. However, this bedtime routine should be completed a few hours before their scheduled bedtime which will enable them to sleep better. No matter what makes an individual relax before sleep, they should go to bed at the same time every night which will encourage them to have a systematic sleep cycle. Consistency guides the patients’ biological clock and helps them get better sleep.
  • Take care of the patient’s mental health: Cancer treatments often lead to anxiety and depression as they are difficult emotionally and physically.  Therefore, patients should be encouraged to write down their experiences in a journal regularly right before going to bed or when they wake up. Absolving themselves of scary emotions can improve their emotional well-being, decrease stress and help them sleep better.
  • Try not to worry: Do your best to encourage the patient to not worry about their condition or insomnia if they experience such side effects from their treatments. Many individuals feel tense and stressed when they don’t get enough sleep and cancer treatments can lead them to feel depressed and worn out. By encouraging them to talk about their experiences, they’ll be better equipped to handle negative emotions that surface.
  1. Take a day-time power nap: If all these attempts fail and the patient doesn’t get 7 to 8 hours’ sleep at night, then also there is nothing to be worried about. A short power nap (about 15-90 minutes in length) during the day can help the patient feel more rested if they have a hard time sleeping at night. These naps can improve creativity, focus and memory. To determine how much sleep is needed, one should listen to their bodies. Some patients require a certain amount of sleep at night and others do not. Therefore, if a patient feels more physically exhausted with fewer hours of sleep, they may need a power nap.
  1. Seek counseling from a competent professional. Anxiety about your health conditions and lack of sleep can be emotionally draining. Anxiety is one of the major causes of sleep disorder among mesothelioma patients. Therapies like cognitive- behavioral therapy can help mesothelioma patients sleep better and have a deeper sleep cycle. A professional therapist can assist them handle the anxiety caused due to mesothelioma.

Maintaining a healthy diet during Mesothelioma treatment is also necessary. Not only will it enable your body to fight the condition but, it will improve your mental stamina and physician strength. Here are some of the ways to do so:

  1. Food rich in protein boosts the healing process after mesothelioma surgery. Eggs, chicken, fish, milk, walnuts, almonds are some rich sources of protein.

  2. Recovery involves growing muscles and regaining strength. Potassium-rich foods like tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, beets, and other vegetables are essential to achieve this.

  3. Chemotherapy may make a patient feel sick and tired. So, they must intake smaller meals frequently throughout the day. Nutritional drinks and snacking every two hours helps a lot.

  4. Exercising, doing yoga, cycling, and other physical activities help the digestive system to increase a patient’s appetite after surgery or during medication.
  • It is always a good idea to wait at least two hours after eating the last meal before going to bed.  Waiting helps aid in digestion and helps individuals
  • Patients cannot eat in considerable quantity which allows them to get the necessary quantity. That is why to keep them healthy, it is necessary to give them something wholesome to eat, which provides them with enough calories.
  • Though a patient should eat light and easily digestible food, it must be palatable too, otherwise, it will be difficult for her to enjoy it and create a negative impact on health and nourishment.

Dealing with family members who may not understand such a sensitive condition can be very painful. However, people should imply their common senses and avoid saying the following to patients with Mesothelioma:

  • Do not tell them that they cannot be cured. Always be positive, tell them that things will be fine.
  • Stop asking them questions like how it happened. Help them recover from their past, not push them back into it.
  • Never ask them how much time they have left. Cheer them up. Make them feel special and help them enjoy the time they have.
  • Try to be genuine and direct but in a polite manner. Refrain talking about the illness altogether.
  • Patients often experience a wide range of emotions and it is often very hard for them to hide their feelings. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for them to speak to people they love and care about. Additionally, counseling may be required to help them deal with their emotions.

Following the above-mentioned suggesting, taking the requested treatments, getting enough sleep, interacting with empathetic people who love them, helps patients stay strong and healthy during critical times of their mesothelioma illness.

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