If you worked for years in the Louisiana shipyards, the fear of a mesothelioma diagnosis may have haunted you. Perhaps you watched some of your former coworkers fall ill and succumb to lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis or another disease related to asbestos exposure, but you held out hope that you had escaped that dreadful fate.
Even when the first symptoms appeared, you may have put off going to the doctor, refusing to believe you were going to be another statistic. By the time you finally received the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the disease was already pretty well advanced. The time for denial was over, so you began treatment, knowing the odds weren't in your favor. Now you may be wondering what to expect when your treatments end.
There is no cure for mesothelioma. Nevertheless, researchers are constantly looking for one, and improvements in care and treatment happen frequently. This is why you are right to keep hoping and remain positive. Currently, the typical course of care for mesothelioma is similar to that of other cancers, including any of the following options:
- A combination of these treatments
- Clinical trials
Even if your doctor tells you the treatments have destroyed the cancer, your greatest fear may be a recurrence. This is all too common with mesothelioma, and your doctor may recommend frequent follow-up visits during which you will likely undergo tests looking for signs that the cancer has returned.
You and your family may be tempted to allow the fear of recurrence to preoccupy you in such a way as to steal the joy from your life. To avoid this, many in your situation have determined to live a full and healthy life. Without a doubt, your cancer treatments have weakened your body. By eating healthy foods, getting some gentle exercise and removing negative factors like smoking, alcohol and stress, you may be able to regain some of your former strength.
Of course, there is no way of knowing if these changes in behavior will delay or prevent the return of your cancer. You may feel discouraged if, after all your efforts, the cancer returns. However, your doctor may know of new treatments or clinical trials that may help you and perhaps future victims of mesothelioma. Throughout your illness, it will be important for you to find strong advocates to assist you and to help your family during this difficult time.