Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.

Once a mesothelioma treatment plan has been determined, patients understandably have a lot of questions about the journey on which they are about to embark. As doctors, we can talk at length about the science of the treatment and the physical changes that will occur, but no one knows better than a patient who has undergone a particular treatment what the experience is actually like.

The Benefits of Support Groups

I’ve written elsewhere in this series about the general benefits of a support group. It is worth going into a bit more detail here about the specific ways this type of group can be of real benefit to patients.

There are many different types of treatment options for mesothelioma. Regardless of whether a patient is scheduled for surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment or any other number of procedures, it can be scary. A support group can help dispel the fear of the unknown. Speaking candidly with other patients who have gone through similar procedures can help ease anxiety and calm fears. This is perhaps the most important benefit of support groups, but there are many other benefits, including:

  • Comfort gained from knowing you’re not alone in your experience
  • Sense of community
  • Source for information on doctors and treatments
  • Enhanced sense of power over the circumstances
  • Reduced anxiety or depression
  • Improved coping skills
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Improved quality of life

To Find a Support Group

Doctors and nurses are great resources for helping patients find support groups. Ministers, rabbis, and social workers would also likely be able to help. The Internet may be the best resource of all, as online support groups are available through newsgroups, chat rooms, and social networking sites.

Next article in this series: “How Can I Explain Mesothelioma to My Children and Grandchildren?”