A cancer diagnosis, particularly mesothelioma, can be unsettling and difficult to accept. A diagnosis of mesothelioma can appear to strike especially quickly because symptoms may be minor or completely absent. Due to the delay in diagnosis often seen in mesothelioma, the surprise of this disease can rapidly consume the patient's life, emphasizing their sense of mortality and compromising their quality of life.
A Difficult Time
A diagnosis of mesothelioma can be especially difficult due to the fact that it is not a very well known disease. Patients may struggle at first as they both cope with their symptoms while also trying to gain information about a cancer they may not be very familiar with. Furthermore, this disease can come as a shock, as the symptoms associated with it tend to mimic other illnesses at first. Due to the general nature of these symptoms, doctors and patients may misdiagnosis the cancer prior to correctly identifying it as mesothelioma. Frequently, mesothelioma testing and diagnostic procedures might only take place after all other options have been exhausted. In addition, that this disease only develops decades after asbestos exposure is another reason patients may initially struggle to accept their diagnosis.
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Emotions Associated with Diagnosis
The delay in accurately diagnosing mesothelioma can make a trying time even more difficult, exaggerating the stages of coping. There is generally an initial shock upon diagnosis of any disease, and some may even feel disbelief or refuse to accept their condition. Questioning why one developed this disease is a very common reaction. As the feelings of fear and uncertainty settle in, patient anxiety about the disease may then build. Common fears include those related to treatment complications or the effect these therapies will have on them. Another common source of fear for patients is their family and loved ones, as they worry about what will happen to them and how they will be cared for during these trying times.
Another emotion associated with the diagnosis of mesothelioma are feelings of guilt. This emotion is often expressed as remorse over ignoring or failing to see warning signs of this disease earlier, as well as wondering what they did that led to its onset. Obviously, mesothelioma patients have nothing to be guilty about, as they have no control over when to recognize this illness. Nevertherless, this is an emotion that is common. This emotion is also highly prevalent in mesothelioma patients due to the cause of this disease, which is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma patients can be wracked with guilt as they wonder exactly when the exposure took place and what they could have done to avoid it. Furthermore, these patients may be overcome by the fear that their family and loved ones suffered secondary exposure.
Anger is also a common reaction, especially when it comes to the circumstances surrounding mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Patients can feel an overwhelming resentment towards the company or employer who allowed for this exposure to asbestos, particulalry if they believe they failed to warn them about the dangers or did not put safety protocols and measurements into place. These feeling of anger can be exacerbated should actual evidence exist that those in charge were aware of the dangers and did nothing to warn or protect their employees.
Hopelessness is another common emotional response, as patients struggle to stay positive in their uncertain situation. The doubt surrounding patients can have a negative impact on their emotional state, disrupting their daily lives and their interactions with others. If a patient tends to focus on the negative aspects of their disease, upcoming treatments, and how it may hurt their quality of life, deep feelings of loss and sadness are likely. This diagnosis forces the patient to confront a new image of themselves, and a life that may now be lived on very different terms. Confusion can settle in as patients are forced to alter their perceptions of themselves and their future. Furthermore, these changes are most often unwanted, leading to a feeling of resentment.
The anger patients feel can sometimes be directed at friends and family, as well as the physicians themselves, especially if they believe their diagnosis was delayed. On the other hand, patients may also repress their anger, altogether shutting out friends and family as they struggle with difficult hypothetical questions and spiritual difficulties in their life.
A Positive Outlook
Although there are an array of negative emotions mesothelioma patients may exhibit which are both common and natural, they are capable of overcoming these to better face the hurdles ahead. Focusing on treatment is as mentally taxing as it is physically, requiring patients to exhibit discipline, strength, and courage. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is often associated with an unfavorable prognosis and life expectancy. However, some individuals have exceeded medical expectations associated with their disease by first coping with their diagnosis and managing to maintain an overall sense of well-being, allowing for a higher quality of life for years after their initial diagnosis.