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.