Mesothelioma ranks amongst the deadliest cancers that progress speedily, leaving patients with little hope and time to focus on recovery. While various treatments eliminate cancerous cells, mesothelioma largely remains incurable.
The most significant challenge stems from the diagnosis complications, as mesothelioma is tough to detect in early phases. Catching cancer in its early stage increases chances of recovery significantly, but mesothelioma is a sneaky disease. It sneaks up and spreads through the body with subtle symptoms and manifests its presence when it has spread considerably.
Most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are given a year or less because of late detection and severe cancer progression. Battling cancer is a strenuous, challenging, and debilitating struggle for patients and their loved ones.
The dark side of mesothelioma is riddled with depressive thoughts, despair, painful chemotherapy sessions, and the fear of losing time. Keep reading to learn more about how victims deal with mesothelioma and its symptoms.
Risk Factors & Asbestos Exposure
It’s easier to create a preventive care regime with a healthy lifestyle if you understand the risk factors. Asbestos exposure is the most prevalent risk factor for mesothelioma, impacting people who work in construction, automotive, and manufacturing. In the case of mesothelioma, patients don’t realize they’re exposed to asbestos exposure or other causes until it’s too late.
Asbestos exposure occurs when tiny asbestos fibers are released into the environment and inhaled or swallowed over time. It takes prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers to develop severe respiratory issues, lung damage, or mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure sets the stage for mesothelioma risks, accounting for over 75% of cases worldwide. Most patients are exposed to asbestos at work, typically in manufacturing plants or construction sites.
Some people develop the risk factors due to asbestos fiber or dust clinging to their clothing and hair. Many others develop mesothelioma after asbestos exposure due to their residential proximity to asbestos mines and sites. Understanding the risks of asbestos exposure is crucial to verify its presence and inform your employers, landlords, or relevant authorities without delay.
Detecting & Diagnosing Mesothelioma
There are two broad types of mesothelioma, depending on which part of the mesothelium is impacted by the disease. Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue that covers the lung, while peritoneal mesothelioma impacts tissues around the abdomen, heart, and testicles. Both types are hard to detect as the early signs are easily confused with the common cold, body aches, and breathing concerns.
The earliest symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, cough, stomach aches, chest aches, and shoulder pain. It’s common for people to ignore such symptoms and take over-the-counter medications to dull the pain. Therefore, most mesothelioma cases are diagnosed later when symptoms are intense and hard to ignore.
In most cases, mesothelioma is detected by accidents during routine tests, physical examinations, X-rays, or blood reports. Then, doctors conduct biopsies to confirm whether the symptoms are caused by cancer or other culprits. The late detection and diagnosis reduce the fighting chance and hopes of survival for patients and their loved ones.
Treating this rare and severe cancer in the later stages considerably decreases success rates and treatment options. An early diagnosis allows patients to explore various life-extending treatments and therapies to elevate their life quality. However, no viable treatments are available to help patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in later stages.
Nothing is worse than being diagnosed with late-stage cancer and grappling for time to make more memories with your loved ones.
Debilitating & Painful Symptoms
It’s crucial to note that mesothelioma symptoms manifest themselves until 20-50 years after the first instance of asbestos exposure. Gradually, mesothelioma causes a severe fluid build-up in the pleura, leading to various breathing and respiratory concerns. The most common symptoms include chest aches and shortness of breath.
Patients diagnosed with peritoneal or abdominal mesothelioma experience severe weight loss, bloating, and stomach aches. The sudden weight loss makes them vulnerable to the risk factors of anemia, and within days, they lose the strength to walk. The journey from diagnosis to bed is overwhelmingly quick, leaving patients and loved ones little time to understand what’s happening.
Patients struggle with disbelief over their diagnosis and speedy disease progression that leaves them overwhelmed. Patients constantly complain of agonizing aches in their lower back and chest and severe muscle fatigue. The symptoms worsen with time, resulting in recurrent fevers, bowel obstructions, abnormal blood clotting, and severe weakness.
Performing routine tasks and self-grooming becomes a challenge, and most radiation therapies further aggravate the weakness. Chemo and radiation therapies used to treat malignant mesothelioma are so painful that patients prefer to die in peace than in pain.
Depression & Hopelessness
Cancer and depressions are constant companions, and depression follows shortly after a cancer diagnosis. In the case of mesothelioma, the depression is much severe and accompanies stress and anxiety. Patients struggle with disbelief, denial, dejection, despair, and depression that threatens to drown their mental wellbeing with overpowering waves of sadness.
Most patients give up on their treatment and recovery chances due to severe depression and hopelessness. In many cases, patients continue treatments and check-ups due to the insistence and interventions staged by family members.
Patients have to give up their careers and find themselves entirely dependent on others for grooming, feeding, and other fundamental needs—this sudden shift in one’s life and loss of independence damages one’s self-esteem and pride. The reduced life quality, perpetual pain, and depressive thoughts make patients vulnerable to severe mental illnesses.
All cancers have a dark side, but there are very few glimmers of light and hope with mesothelioma. In most cases, treatments are very few and do not guarantee life extension, especially with a late diagnosis. Doctors prefer being realistic when laying out treatment options and therapeutic resources available to treat mesothelioma.
The dark side of mesothelioma brings sorrow and pain to patients and their loved ones. The disease progresses quickly, and as symptoms worsen, patients start losing parts of themselves each day. The process is emotionally crippling for patients and their loved ones. After all, the only thing worse than watching yourself fall apart is witnessing someone you love deteriorate slowly.
It’s crucial to understand signs and risk factors to prevent such a calamity and spread awareness.