Though the average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12-21 months, it’s important to know that the prognosis you’ve been given is only a prediction. The disease course can change with specific ways to improve your mesothelioma prognosis, overall health and response to treatment.
Several mesothelioma patients have far surpassed their projected life expectancy by taking charge of their healthcare throughout their treatment.
Here are 5 ways to take control of your health and improve your mesothelioma prognosis.
1. Maintain Mobility Through Regular Exercise
Taking care of your body during this challenging time is paramount. Obesity is a known risk for the development of many cancers. While this does not contribute to mesothelioma, keeping a regular, healthy weight can help you avoid health complications.
Exercise can also eliminate the growth of new tumors after undergoing treatment. Fat cells produce hormones that can increase the risk of cancer.
By improving your mobility, you can also increase your chances of longevity. Exercise also produces endorphins, which lighten your mood and can make you feel more positive about the future.
2. Nourish Yourself With a Healthy Diet
Studies on a variety of cancers show that eating more fruit and vegetables can improve survival rates.
Some doctors favor calorie-restricted diets. They recommend small amounts of high-fat products such as red or processed meat, and encourage a wide range of fruit and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.
3. Listen to Your Body and Report Changes Immediately
No one knows your body better than you. If you’ve made changes to your lifestyle following your prognosis but you don’t feel ‘like yourself,’ speak to your doctor immediately. Simple changes like regular exercise and a healthy diet can have wonderful effects on cancer patients. But it’s also important not to overdo it—especially if your lifestyle was different before your diagnosis.
If you experience uncommon side effects or don’t feel as though the treatment is working, it’s critical to voice your concerns as soon as possible.
Your doctor will devise a specialized treatment plan that addresses any necessary changes. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can always ask for a second opinion.
4. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Commit to Your Health
An essential part of mesothelioma recovery is your mental wellbeing. Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can cause you to question your entire life, wondering what you could have done to prevent it. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not your fault.
Part of coping with a diagnosis of any kind is remembering to stay positive and commit to your new lifestyle.
Whether that’s by going for a daily walk, eating more leafy greens or meditating. Surround yourself with people and things that make you happy, or join a support group and speak with likeminded people about how to remain optimistic about the future.
5. Work With a Mesothelioma Specialist and Get a Personalized Treatment Plan
Each mesothelioma case is different, and so is each patient’s treatment plan. Choosing the right specialist for you is an important factor. Make sure you find a doctor you’re comfortable around and trust.
Different doctors specialize in different areas, so you may prefer to get a second opinion from another mesothelioma specialist before continuing with your treatment. Doctors can also suggest a list of things you can specifically do to improve your mesothelioma prognosis.
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, it will take time to come to terms with what your prognosis means for both you and your family. But remember—it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road. Not giving up is one of the hardest lessons you will learn, but it’s also one of the best medicines.