Support for the Mesothelioma Caregiver at the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP

Mesothelioma is a very serious and aggressive disease which is why patients must focus on their treatment as their top priority.  However, it is also important to remember that once treatment at the hospital has ended, it will be family or friends that will become the primary caregiver for the patient.  These caregivers need to be armed with the right tools to not only care for the patient but to care for themselves.  At the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, they have developed many programs over the years to aid in support for caregivers.  Dr. Sugarbaker, Director of the IMP, and his team know that once the mesothelioma patient is discharged from the hospital, the caregiver is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week to make sure their loved ones’ needs are taken care of.

IMP Support Groups

The IMP has created Support Groups to help patients’ families and caregivers.  The meetings give families and caregivers a chance to share their stories with others who are dealing with the same issues.  Many often feel that their own circle of friends and family does not understand what they are going through.  The Support Group meetings at the IMP allow caregivers to connect with others who are facing similar challenges.

One of my client’s whose husband was treated at the IMP for his mesothelioma attended these Support Groups.  She found them extremely helpful and it gave her time to reflect and discuss the events of the week.  She enjoyed and needed the camaraderie and compassion she received from the Support Group meetings.

Recommendations for the Mesothelioma Caregiver

Caregivers are encouraged to ask questions of the medical team and social workers.  It is suggested that they bring a journal to doctor’s appointment and meetings with medical staff and take notes of important information and any prescriptions or medical advice.  The process of mesothelioma treatment can often feel like a whirlwind.  Keeping a journal will enable caregivers to recall later what was discussed at meetings and appointments.

Family and caregiver Support Groups at the IMP are valuable and inspiring for patients and caregivers.  However, keep in mind when talking to other families that each patient is different in their type of mesothelioma, how they are being treated and how they are reacting to treatment.  While one treatment may be right for one patient, it may not be right for another.

The IMP provides wonderful support for the mesothelioma patient as well as their family and caregiver.  The IMP takes great care to not only treat the disease but to treat the whole mesothelioma patient physically and mentally.

Throughout the many decades I have been representing clients with mesothelioma, I have observed the many aspects to this devastating disease and how it effect each person involved differently.  I commend the IMP for the support they provide to mesothelioma patients, their families and caregivers.

New Research Technique Offers Hope In Cancer and Mesothelioma Treatments

The New Year brings new and hopeful discoveries in the field of cancer research.  I recently read about a revolutionary discovery that will allow scientists to compare the differences between normal cells and cancer cells. Up until now, this could not be done because researchers weren’t able to keep normal cells taken from patients alive, even though they could keep tumor cells alive. New research techniques like this will enable scientists to better understand mesothelioma and other types of cancer-leading to better treatment options and ultimately cures.

Focusing Cancer Treatments on Each Patient

Cell Culture in a Petri Dish

Previously, normal cell cultures for most organs could not be created in a lab.  This made it impossible for researchers to directly compare normal cells and cancerous tumor cells.  Being able to study these cells side by side will provide oncologists with the ability to find the right treatments for each individual and spare normal cells from the toxicity of cancer treatments.

This study will also revolutionize the work that pathologist can do.  Today, pathologist can only work with biopsies that are frozen, fixed or embedded in wax.  In the future, pathologists will be able to use the information obtained from the live cells to diagnose tumors and screen treatments for patients.

Treatment for Mesothelioma

Just as each person is unique so is their mesothelioma.  A treatment that works for one patient may cause severe side effects or have no effect on another patient.  Scientists are conducting clinical trials every day to test and refine personalized cancer treatments. Research such as the recent live cell study at Georgetown University is key to being able to focus treatment on individual patients. This will bring us one step closer to finding a cure for this devastating cancer.

Cancer Research and Mesothelioma

I am constantly encouraged when I read of new discoveries being made in the field of cancer.  These discoveries are the gateway to advances in the treatment of mesothelioma.  I am looking forward to the new promise 2012 brings to the cure for mesothelioma and other cancers.