Finding out that you have an advanced cancer can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious and it’s normal to not be able to think about anything else.
Lots of information and support is available to you and your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.
Talk to your specialist to understand:
- what your diagnosis means
- what is likely to happen
- what treatment is available
- how treatment can help you
Who can help
You can get emotional and practical support through your hospital, local hospice and GP practice. You can also get help from charities and support groups.
It‘s important that you feel as well as you possibly can. You can ask your hospital doctor or GP to refer you to a specialist palliative care team. They can help to control your cancer symptoms and improve the quality of your life physically. Many members of these teams have counselling training. So they can help you work through some of the emotions you may have.
Support at home
Your specialist nurse or a district nurse can talk to you about ways you may cope more easily if you have physical difficulties in coping at home. They can help you to get simple mobility aids, such as a seat to help you get in and out of the bath. They can also tell you how to get changes made to your home, such as safety rails fitted in your bathroom.
Help with breathlessness
There are breathing exercises you can do and other ways of coping with breathlessness.
Support organisations and publications
Mesothelioma and cancer support organisations can give you good information and help you connect with other people with advanced mesothelioma. Books and free factsheets are also available.
Talking about advanced cancer
Your friends and relatives might be able to support you and talk to you about your cancer. Sharing can help to increase trust and support between you and make it easier to plan ahead. But some families are scared of the emotions this could bring up and don’t want to discuss it. They might worry that you won't be able to cope with your situation.
It can strain relationships if your family or friends don't want to talk. You can help your family and friends by letting them know you would like to discuss what’s happening and how you feel.
You might find it easier to talk to someone outside your own friends and family.
Counselling might help you find ways of coping with your feelings and emotions.
Thinking about your priorities and planning what you want to do can help you to feel more in control. You might want to talk about how you want to spend your time and what is and isn’t important to you.
Some of your future plans might no longer be realistic. But you might get round to doing something you always wanted to do but weren’t able to make time for.
You might have extra expenses due to the cancer. Your specialist nurse or GP can help you get grants for heating costs, holidays or household expenses related to your illness.
Ask to see a social worker. They can let you know which benefits or grants you can claim and help with the claiming process.
Towards the end of life
It’s natural to want to find out what is likely to happen in the last few weeks or days of life.
You might need to choose where you want to be looked after and who you want to care for you.