A healthy life is something everyone desires and values. But those who suffer and then recover from life-threatening illnesses can truly understand the importance of life. It is human nature that we tend to take things for granted unless we see them slipping out of our hands. Our health is one of the most precious things we have, but sometimes we forget its importance and fall victim to numerous diseases.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal disease. Chances of survival depend largely on the stage of diagnosis and the severity of the disease. Without early diagnosis, proper treatment, and care, your chances of living a prolonged life decrease drastically. But for those who manage to escape its jaws must understand and follow the recommended path of recovery towards a normal life. If you are one of the survivors, this article will walk you through everything you need to know about post-surgery recovery.
Duration of the Recovery Phase
Recovering from mesothelioma is one of the most challenging times you’ll ever face. It is a life-changing venture that can be difficult to embrace, especially with all the side effects accompanying treatments. As a survivor, you must understand that the timeline for recovery during mesothelioma treatment depends upon the patient and the type of treatment. Typically, it takes four to eight weeks before you start feeling normal again. But sometimes, it might take as long as three to four months.
The recovery period for every mesothelioma patient differs with the type of treatment they undergo. For instance, patients who undertake pleurectomy/decortication may recover slowly during the initial stages but experience a faster long-term recovery. Patients who qualify for Extrapleural Pneumonectomy experience shorter initial recovery but a prolonged long-term recovery.
Be mindful that the duration of the recovery phase would vary for every mesothelioma patient. A full recovery would depend on several factors, including the stage of your cancer, your overall health, and the type of treatment. Therefore, please seek your doctor’s advice before choosing a treatment course. Also, getting familiar with the associated recovery phase before your treatment will help you recover faster in the long run.
As a mesothelioma patient, you must understand the lifestyle changes you will experience during the recovery phase. After an initial post-surgery bed rest, your doctor may incline you to embed a walking routine within your lifestyle. This includes walking for 30 minutes twice or thrice every day. Similarly, you have to say goodbye to fast foods and other unhealthy options. You’ll need to focus more on consuming natural food and lean protein such as fish, vegetables, chicken, and fruits.
Keep in mind that your doctor will also prescribe some medicine, including vitamin supplements, to speed up your recovery. These medications are usually for long-term use; however, your doctor might change or even ask you to discontinue them, depending on your overall health. All in all, these routines will help you stay focused on wellness rather than sickness.
Common Side Effects
As you make your way through the road to recovery, you would have to deal with numerous side effects of your treatment. As a mesothelioma patient, managing side effects can be quite challenging, so it’s wise to take expert advice from your doctor. Discuss what side effects you would be dealing with and how you can cope with them. Also, remember that these side effects may differ depending on the treatment course you chose.
According to medical experts, you may experience fatigue and weakness after chemotherapeutic treatment. But this pain is short-lived and subsides in a couple of days. Moreover, you may experience post-surgery nausea and vomiting, which is quite common after surgery. Mesothelioma patients also report hair loss problems during the recovery phase. The good news is that your hair will grow back after some time.
Some side effects last longer and can last several weeks or even months. Mesothelioma patients who undergo chemotherapy complain about peripheral neuropathy. This is a type of nerve pain that can last for several months. However, medication and numerous therapies can make it manageable. Chemo brain is yet another common side effect reported by mesothelioma survivors undertaking chemotherapy. This side effect involves complaints of forgetfulness, difficulty in multitasking, and slow mental responses that can last for months. In rare cases, patients have reported cognitive impairment, which lasted for several years after the treatment was over.
Lastly, mesothelioma patients who go through radiation therapy report side effects involving fatigue, redness, skin irritation, and hair loss. Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can last for a few weeks, resulting in fatigue and feelings of exhaustion as the treatment continues. However, these side effects subside once the treatment is complete.
Emotional and Physical Challenges
Recovering from mesothelioma treatment can be very difficult, especially for patients who undergo surgeries as a part of their treatment. Your body might not endure the physical and emotional pain initially, but things get better if you have a positive mindset. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be exhausting. Still, you must be very careful about blending physical activity into your daily routine. After all, only a good balance between physical exertion and rest can ensure a speedy recovery.
While you work on your physical well-being, you cannot neglect your emotional needs. As a cancer patient, you may experience a wide range of emotions such as fear, nervousness, and hopelessness. But remember that it is perfectly normal to feel this way.
One way of dealing with your emotions is by joining a support group to share your thoughts and experiences. Meanwhile, you can also learn a thing or two about being positive through other people’s experiences and how you can overcome your fears. You can also consult your friends and family or spiritual groups regarding the emotional challenges you face and their remedies. This way, you can ease your emotional pain while working towards a normal life.
You might want to consider yourself lucky if you are a surviving cancer patient. However challenging it may be, recovery requires a positive attitude and solid support. The recovery process can be long and unpredictable, but as long as you follow expert guidelines, chances are everything will return to normal.