The aftermath of asbestos usage in the United States has left an often tragic and even devastating path of destruction for exposure victims. For close to 100 years, between the late 1800s and mid- to late-1900s, millions of people were unknowingly exposed to a toxic and potentially fatal material. Many were exposed at work, while others came into contact with asbestos in their own homes-either from building components used during construction or through a process called secondary exposure.
Life after asbestos goes on with no detectable consequences for many people. But for the small and unfortunate portion that develops an asbestos-linked illness-such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other forms of cancer-life is never the same again. All of these chronic and pervasive conditions cause significant physical and emotional distress for the victim-and in the case of mesothelioma cancers, death.
There is much information available about asbestos, its consequences and options for legal recourses. To offer victims of asbestos an easy and straightforward guide that is designed to cover a myriad of topics-from veteran exposure and cutting-edge treatment options to choosing a legal representative and taking your personal injury case to court.
PART XVIII: MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA
This installment of our series is designed specifically for the family and friends of those affected by malignant mesothelioma. If you are a victim who has been following this month-long guide to life after asbestos-please take this time to share Part XVIII with your loved ones, in addition to reading the following advice for supporting those struggling with a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Often the most important thing you can do to support a loved one suffering from malignant mesothelioma is simply to be present-in whatever way(s) he or she needs you to be. Be there to listen. Be there to provide emotional, as well as physical, support. Be there as a caretaker when needed. Sometimes, merely being by your loved ones side-with nothing said between the two of you-is the best support you can offer. Most important, let the person know that you are there for him (or her) and don’t be afraid to ask how you may be of help or comfort.
Take care of business.
While it may be difficult to be mindful of logistics, while coping with a loved one’s sudden illness, it is important to handle plans and paperwork that is of timely essence. Once such tasks are undertaken, many people find a sense of comfort in both keeping busy and feeling like they are actually doingsomething. For loved ones of malignant mesothelioma victims, one of the most difficult realities to handle is the complete lack of control and virtual helplessness they have over the situation. Some affairs that will need to be brought into order include:
- Drafting advance care directives with your loved one’s help
- Making arrangements for hospice care or other palliative support
- Beginning preparations for final arrangements
- Helping your loved one review (or draft) a will, possibly with legal review
- Hiring a mesothelioma law firm to pursue legal compensation
Make time for goodbyes.
According to palliative care specialist Dr. Ira Byock, author of Dying Well, it is important for both the terminally ill and surviving loved ones to make time for saying goodbye and (if warranted) making amends. Bereaved individuals often grapple with regret, stemming from the weight of things left unsaid. To allow comfort and closure on both sides, carve out a special time to express apologies, forgiveness, gratitude-and most importantly, love.