An initial diagnosis of mesothelioma is life-altering for the patient and the family. Now with the combination of a pandemic, this can be overwhelming. We always recommend seeking treatment at a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence, but to receive this specialized treatment can require travel. In the time before the COVID-19 National Emergency, that is how people accessed this specialized care. During this time, with a new diagnosis of mesothelioma, what is the best way to access treatment?
If you were planning on visiting a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence and travel is not currently possible, you can reach out and set up a phone conversation with the medical team. Many physicians are willing to have phone conversations during this time. Telehealth is being practiced in so many areas where it has not been used before. If you have a copy of your medical records many centers may be willing to look at discs of scans, and other laboratory data that you may be able to send. While you might not be able to travel, you may be able to get physicians from Centers of Excellence to collaborate with your local doctor to come up with a plan.
Malignant mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose. The presenting symptoms often are the same symptoms as other common diseases, like pneumonia. It can be very confusing with the symptoms of COVID-19 also being respiratory in nature.
Reach out to your medical team locally and the mesothelioma team that you were planning on seeing. Before the pandemic malignant mesothelioma was a complicated, specialized disease, and it will be after the pandemic. Having a plan will relieve some of the anxiety during these difficult times.
As important as your physical health is your psychological health. If you are feeling isolated please reach out to family members or seek out support groups for mesothelioma patients. Another great resource is a medical team that is experienced with mesothelioma. These teams include doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplaincy, and patient advocates. Please reach out to these services, as they are here to help. They are also dealing with this “new normal” and can help support you.
Another thing you can do is keep yourself in the best possible health. Go for walks, eat high protein diets, verbalize how you feel, keep a diary of your weight, and document your symptoms. Stay positive and believe that this will be a hurdle that you will get through. Stay away from crowds and don’t investigate too much on the internet. Have faith in your medical team and stay focused on your health.
These are trying and uncertain times. We all hope things will return to our normal as soon as possible. Make the most of this time, reach out to us, or your medical professional, with questions or just for a conversation about what is on your mind. Remember you are not alone, we are in this together. Take care and be safe.