Mesothelioma treatment should not begin and end with medical procedures. The health of veterans living with mesothelioma also depends on their mental and emotional wellbeing. To this end, mesothelioma support groups are an excellent resource where veterans and their caretakers can find community, stress relief, and treatment information.
Importance of Mesothelioma Support Groups for Veterans
Just as mesothelioma ravages the body, it can severely damage a patient’s mental and emotional health. According to the American Cancer Society, as many as 1 in 4 cancer patients have clinical depression.
Additionally, data from the National Veteran Health Equity Report shows that veterans often face mental health struggles separate from a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Compared to the general population, veterans may be more prone to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorder (SUD)
This makes it especially important for veterans with mesothelioma to look after their mental and emotional health.
Thankfully, mesothelioma support groups can provide veterans with several emotional and even physical benefits.
Top 4 Benefits of Mesothelioma Support Groups
Mesothelioma support groups may vary in size, format, and location, but their goal is nearly always the same — to help patients and their loved ones cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with mesothelioma.
These support groups provide the following benefits for group members.
1. Support Groups Provide an Understanding Community
While friends and family are central to the wellbeing of many veterans with mesothelioma, there are unique advantages to getting support from others living with the same condition.
Talking to, hearing the stories of, and being cheered on by other people living with mesothelioma gives many patients strength and hope.
In addition, a support group provides a stable community.
Many veterans, especially as they age, become socially isolated. Sometimes family and friends become overwhelmed by supporting a loved one with cancer as often as they may need. Regular support groups help protect against this isolation.
2. Support Groups Relieve Stress
One of the main reasons mesothelioma patients join support groups is to have a place where they can talk freely about the fears and problems concerning their diagnosis and receive validation, encouragement, and support.
For many veterans with mesothelioma, this often reduces the overwhelming amount of stress that can surround a cancer diagnosis.
While stress is often seen as relatively harmless, it can contribute to many health issues.
Stress often leads to:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Muscle and chest pain
- Social withdrawal
- Substance abuse
- Upset stomach
Stress is especially harmful to mesothelioma patients, who need their strength to recover from rigorous cancer treatments.
3. Support Groups Provide Mesothelioma Treatment Information
One of the most practical benefits of support groups for cancer patients is access to information about mesothelioma treatments.
Mesothelioma support group members often have knowledge about treatment and palliative care options that other members may not have heard of. This may be especially useful for information on clinical trials, which patients may not be as widely aware of as standard care options.
In addition, some groups may provide access to licensed counselors, social workers, and veterans affairs workers who can be excellent resources for healthy coping techniques and veteran-specific struggles.
4. Support Groups Help Caregivers
Support is also essential for those looking after a loved one with mesothelioma.
Caregivers often face long, unpredictable hours, social isolation, and a lack of understanding from friends and family members about the realities of looking after a severely ill loved one.
Some benefits of caregiver support groups include:
- Increased sense of empowerment
- Learning healthy coping skills
- Less loneliness and isolation
- Reduced depression and anxiety
Such groups may also help improve caregiving skills, leading to a better quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
Find Mesothelioma Support Groups
Veterans need more than medical care to treat mesothelioma — they need the community, treatment information, and caregiver assistance that mesothelioma support groups can provide.
Mesothelioma veterans who are not able to join a face-to-face group may join a group over the phone or online.
Those who need face-to-face interaction may also benefit from a general cancer support group supplemented by mesothelioma support groups online or over the phone.
Veterans with mesothelioma and their loved ones should not ignore their emotional health during such a difficult time.
Look through our page of mesothelioma support groups for this essential part of treatment.