Below is an article by guest author Chris Visser, the Founder and Owner of the Mesothelioma Treatment Community. Chris’ article touches on the supplies, responsibilities, and tips for caregivers of patients suffering Mesothelioma.
If a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, this is usually when the role of a caregiver comes in to effect. This article is intended for informal (family members, loved ones, friends) and professional caregivers alike.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer and if you have found yourself becoming a caregiver of a mesothelioma patient, here are some tips, advice and resources to get you started and prepared for upcoming obstacles.
What To Expect
As a caregiver, you should expect to assist and/or take over the responsibilities that the patient can no longer complete on their own. Some of these responsibilities include, dressing, bathing, feeding, bathroom assistance, managing medications, monitoring health changes, and with mesothelioma cancer specifically, you may need to be the liaison for legal issues.
It’s important to note that the roles of a caregiver are subject to change and this is usually, more so, completely based on the needs of the patient. Responsibilities before a type of mesothelioma treatment is administered will vary greatly in comparison to after the treatment.
What To Expect After Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a very common treatment for mesothelioma, so this needs to be addressed. There are precautions that must be adhered to and there are things you might need to aid in the process.
When a patient undergoes a form of chemotherapy treatment, the drug will still be present in the body fluids for up to 72 hours after treatment. Here are a couple things to be prepared for:
- Patients may use the toilet as usual, but now, you must close the lid and flush twice. Be sure to always wash your hands and their hands vigorously with soap and water. Here is a good soap for this.
- If a bedpan, commode or urinal is used, the caregiver should wear gloves when emptying it and it is recommended to wear either two pairs of powder-free latex gloves or a single pair of nitrile gloves. This same practice applies to basins used for vomiting.
- Wash clothing and linen as usual unless it’s soiled with chemotherapy or body fluids. If you don’t have a washer, put the used laundry in a bio-waste bag until it can be washed.
- If chemotherapy is spilled on skin, irritation or rash may occur. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
- For spills on the floor or in the home environment (not on your skin), there are specific biohazard spill kits to be used for the clean up.
Common Jobs & Responsibilities
The amount of responsibilities of a mesothelioma caregiver will vary depending on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s age, and their general health but here are some common responsibilities that we feel are very important to elaborate on:
- Health Monitoring: Caregivers for mesothelioma patients are responsible for managing medications, reporting health changes to the doctor, managing appointment schedules and providing details of the patients to their medical team.
- Emotional Support: Companionship is usually very crucial to a patient’s well-being.
- Decision Making: Patient’s usually need assistance in making important decisions. Ie. Financial decisions, treatment options, health insurance coverage, etc.
- Self-Awareness: You probably weren’t expecting that one, but a caregiver must know how to deal with their own personal uncertainties and emotions as well. It’s critical to know that you might occasionally feel lost, burnt out and frustrated.
Final Tips For Caregivers
Frustration and stress are common emotions that caregivers deal with and on occasion, this stress can cause disagreements and miscommunication between the caregiver and the patient. Here are some tips that can help you along the way:
- Acknowledge your differences
Don’t jump to any conclusions but simply expect these differences in advance. A caregiver needs to cater to the patient and while sometimes this can be difficult, it is your job.
- Stay as organized as possible
Keep treatment schedules, medical paper work and other crucial documents organized. This will enable you to always be prepared in a time of crisis.
- Know how to manage stress, YOUR stress
You must know how to detect stress signals and manage it without interrupting the comfort of the patient.
- Seek help
If you feel completely overwhelmed, seek assistance. Seeking help does not mean you failed. It only enables you to provide the best care to your mesothelioma patient.
For more information about mesothelioma cancer visit https://www.treatmesothelioma.org, the Mesothelioma Treatment Community.