Shock -- "I can't believe it"
Shock is often the first reaction to any life changing event. Common signs are:
- Feeling numb and not believe what is happening
- Inability to express any emotion
- Only able to absorb small information bytes
- Need information repeated over and over again
Many people find expressing feelings of shock to friends and family is difficult. Others may experience a strong urge to talk about it in depth as a way of confirming the facts for themselves.
Fear -- "Am I going to die?"
The first question a person asks when diagnosed is "Am I going to die?".
It is important to understand that mesothelioma patients can live for many years after being diagnosed. There are a number of treatments that can help in maintaining a quality of life, slowing the progression of the cancer, and managing pain.
A common concern involves treatment and if any pain is involved. Like other cancers, years of research has been spent on improving treatments and allowing patients to cope with the stress and pain involved. Although horror stories exist of side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, many are outdated and do not involve current treatment options. Your doctor is an important source of information about treatment details, so be sure to ask all the questions you may have.
Denial -- "I don't have mesothelioma"
Common ways of coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis include
- Not wanting to know anything about their mesothelioma cancer
- Talking about it as little as possible
Denial is an understandable reaction, so make it clear to family members if you don.t wish to speak about the diagnosis. However, many times you may feel the exact opposite, and your family and friends may react by:
- Denying your illness
- Appearing to ignore the fact that you have mesothelioma
- Playing down your anxieties and symptoms
- Deliberately changing the subject
These reactions can be due to strong feelings of fear or embarrassment, or because of limited understanding about mesothelioma. It is common to believe that "if I don't talk about it, it isn't happening." However, you may want support and compassion, which conflicts with these feelings. Be sure to express how you feel, and that speaking with them about your illness will help you.
It is common to direct anger at:
- Those close to you
- Doctors and nurses providing care
- Asbestos companies
- God or other religious figures
Don't feel guilty about anger or bad moods. However, make sure to express your feelings to your family and friends to help them understand your reaction. It can help to:
- Speak with them at a time when you.re not as angry
- Ask them to read these pages if talking is difficult
Feel free to discuss these feelings with a counselor.