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Living With Mesothelioma: Lifestyle Tips You Should Know About
In 2020, an estimated 30,870 individuals were diagnosed with mesothelioma worldwide. In the United States, it affects around 3,000 individuals every year. Mesothelioma is a relatively rare illness in the United States and commonly affects older individuals more than younger people. Researchers suggest that the average age of individuals at diagnosis affecting the chest is 72. Like other cancer types, mesothelioma can profoundly affect one’s lifestyle. This disease can affect the quality of life of the person diagnosed with this disease and other people closely associated with that individual.
What lifestyle changes can you make when you get diagnosed with mesothelioma? In what ways can mesothelioma affect your lifestyle and stress levels?If you are diagnosed with the disease or know someone who has it, The Mesothelioma Group can help you through the diagnosis and treatment process of this disease.This article explains how you can adjust your lifestyle, including nutritional adjustments, when you have mesothelioma.This article also explains how changes brought by this disease can affect your lifestyle.
Tips on Making Lifestyle Changes After Diagnosis
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer affecting the mesothelium, the layer of tissues covering many of your internal organs. Individuals with cancer often experience side effects such as unexplained weight loss. This noticeable drop in body weight can be a severe threat to an individual battling cancer such as mesothelioma. Thus, maintaining a well- balanced diet is essential to help offset the effects of weight changes. Doctors suggest eating several small meals throughout the day, often up to six. Cancer patients also need to consume more protein than healthy individuals. The body needs this extra protein to help heal tissues and fight infection, especially after surgery or chemotherapy. Individuals recovering from a mesothelioma treatment session such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy will likely experience a change in their body’s capacity to digest and absorb nutrients. In this case, individuals diagnosed with this disease should do what they can to maintain an ideal weight and meet their nutritional needs to prevent muscle mass loss.
Your exact needs can vary from others, so ask your medical team about what nutritional plan will work best for you. In general, a balanced and healthy diet includes the following:
● Whole grains: Choose whole and intact grains, such as barley, whole wheat, wheat berries, oats, quinoa, brown rice, and foods made with these grains like whole wheat pasta. These foods have a milder effect on insulin and blood sugar than white rice, white bread, and other refined grains.
● Fruits and vegetables: Consider eating vegetables and fruits of various colors and varieties. However, do not count potatoes as vegetables since potatoes can negatively impact your blood sugar.
● Water, tea, or coffee: Limit your milk and dairy product intake to one or two servings daily and skip sugary drinks. Additionally, limit your juice consumption to one small glass daily.
● Protein: Mix versatile and healthy protein sources, such as fish, beans, poultry, and nuts, into salads. You can also pair these protein-rich foods with vegetables on a plate. At the same time, limit your consumption of red meat, and avoid processed meats like sausage and bacon.
● Healthy plant oils: Choose healthy vegetable oils such as olive, canola, corn, sunflower, soy, and peanut oil.
Furthermore, avoid partially hydrogenated oils containing unhealthy trans fats. Despite these oils containing low-fat content, they are not necessarily healthy.
Aside from eating healthy, staying active is also essential in managing weight. Although many individuals perceive exercise as a method to lose weight, it also plays a role in maintaining the body’s wellbeing.
Some exercises you can perform to stay active include the following:
● Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises: These activities include walking, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming.
● Muscle-strengthening activities: These exercises include using weight machines, free weights, and elastic resistance bands.
● Flexibility training: Flexibility exercises include yoga, tai chi, and other stretching exercises.
● Balance training: This exercise includes standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walking in a straight line, and standing on a balance board.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer. One primary cause of this disease is asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a natural mineral often used as a heat-resistant material for various applications, such as insulation, shingles, brakes, and flooring.
When asbestos breaks up, such as during mining or insulation removal, this material produces dust individuals can inhale or swallow. This
situation causes the dust to settle in the lungs or stomach, causing irritation that leads to mesothelioma.
Although there are treatments for mesothelioma, curing it is impossible for many individuals diagnosed with this disease. Mesothelioma symptoms can vary based on where cancer occurs in the body.
types of mesothelioma
Affects tissues surrounding the lungs. Symptoms include:
○ Unexplained weight loss
○ Painful coughing and chest pains
○ Shortness of breath
○ Unusual lumps under the chest
Occurs in the abdominal tissues and causes symptoms such as the following:
○ Unexplained weight loss
○ Abdominal pain and swelling
Other forms of mesothelioma
Other types of this disease occur rarely and, thus, have symptoms challenging to observe.
Affects the tissue around the heart, causing chest pains and breathing difficulties
Tunica vaginalis mesothelioma
Occurs in the tissue surrounding the testicles and may be initially detected as a mass or swelling on a testicle.
How Does Mesothelioma Affect Your Lifestyle?
Because a mesothelioma diagnosis can affect the individual and their loved ones, how the family functioned in the past can influence how they will handle the outcome of the diagnosis. For example, families who openly discuss issues and share feelings with each other can usually talk about serious matters easily and strive to work together to make the necessary adjustments. Spouses and children may be experiencing similar emotions the individual with mesothelioma has regarding the diagnosis and treatment. Thus, the person diagnosed with mesothelioma should discuss the situation with their family and make decisions together to know what new roles they will take on in the future.
During diagnosis and treatment, the family can experience disruptions to their everyday living patterns. Furthermore, such a trying time can strengthen or strain relationships among family members. Thus, everyone in the family should take steps to maintain a sense of balance in their lives and give adequate time to manage their personal needs.
Mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment can be challenging even to caregivers. Consider observing these individuals and taking action if you notice signs of depression. If you notice the caregiver possibly having depression, encourage them to seek professional help. Also, consider giving these individuals time off to rest, run errands, or enjoy a day out with their friends. If you have questions about mesothelioma or seek professional support to cope with this disease, contact the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at 1-800-422-6237 or through NCI’s online live chat service on cancer.gov/contact.
1. Mesothelioma: Statistics
2. Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma
3. Mesothelioma: Symptoms & Causes
4. Benefits of Good Nutrition During Cancer Treatment
5. Healthy Eating Plate
6. Staying Active
7. NCI's Cancer Information Service