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In The Community // September 21, 2016 MAAC Staff

Mesothelioma Awareness – Part 4: Building Your Support Community

On September 26, 2016, Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center will be participating in various Mesothelioma Awareness Day events. In preparation for the day, we are posting a series of articles on topics surrounding the disease. In previous posts, we’ve shared information on asbestos exposure, the diagnostic process, and treatment difficulties. Today, we are looking at the support community available for mesothelioma patients and those closest to them.

Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have found that they need to build up their support communities. This includes not only the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who will be taking care of their medical needs, but also family, friends, spiritual and emotional counselors, and others who may provide care and support in various ways.

The good news is that there are more resources available today than there were even five or ten years ago. Right here on our own site, we have an entire section devoted to helping mesothelioma patients, family members, and others find a connection to the broader mesothelioma community.

Where to Find Support

There are a lot of ways for mesothelioma patients to find support. Some of these include mesothelioma-specific groups, as well as groups that support cancer patients and survivors in general.

One such group is the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This advocacy and awareness group work is the sole nonprofit organization committed to finding a cure for mesothelioma. As such, they raise money to fund research, offer educational resources, and give direct support to patients and families in the form of webinars, support groups, and other resources. The Meso Foundation also host conferences and seminars that allow individuals from all walks of life to come together to talk about their experiences with mesothelioma, share information about new treatments, and participate in learning and informational sessions.

For those who are interested in efforts to ban asbestos – a cause which many mesothelioma survivors and family members of those who have died from the disease readily take up – the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization may be a good place to start. This organization has made a strong effort to get before lawmakers and regulatory agencies to promote their cause of getting asbestos completely banned in the United States. They hold events and have a dedicated community where individuals can share their stories about asbestos-related disease, as well as attend conferences and access online resources.

Many individuals who have mesothelioma themselves or know someone with the disease find support through local resources as well. This may include everything from meeting other mesothelioma patients (or patients with other forms of cancer) during doctor’s visits, to connecting with local support groups. These can be invaluable resources, especially for those who need support nearby to where they live.

Providing Support to Others

Mesothelioma patients and supporters often need support, but in many cases they can also provide support to others. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but it makes a certain amount of sense when you think about how individuals who share a common experience can help lift each other up. This can include spiritual and emotional support, as well as providing insight into their own experiences. It can also include physical help, such as relatively small tasks like helping someone pick up prescriptions or running them to appointments, to much larger things like organizing benefits or fundraising events.

Many mesothelioma survivors become advocates and supporters of others who are going through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from the disease. While anyone can help out a mesothelioma patient, survivors have a unique experience with the disease that can help them through insights that others may not have.

Financial Support

One of the biggest things that mesothelioma patients face is the financial reality of their situation. Every phase of mesothelioma costs a lot of money, from diagnosis and treatment to recovery and follow-up appointments. Plus, there may expenses with traveling to cancer clinics or to see specialists, extra payments for experimental treatments, and other financial concerns that can crop up during the course of the disease. Finally, a lot of people are unable to work while they are receiving treatment, and the lost income can become a significant burden, multiplied by the fact that they have to pay for their cancer therapy.

Fortunately, there is financial support available for many people. Because mesothelioma is caused by asbestos, patients or their families may be eligible to receive compensation through trust funds that have been established to pay for asbestos exposure liability. In certain cases, companies who are liable for the exposure may even be persuaded to pay a settlement that covers the costs of medical procedures and related expenses.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can learn more about all of the support options that are available. Simply request a free guide with more information about these and other avenues of support.