image from www.treatmesothelioma.com
Why the long break between blogs? Nope, not being lazy. Just getting settled in my new home with the family in Middle Tennessee. It has been a big adjustment since retiring this year on April 28. For me, it hasn’t been too bad but for a formal workaholic; it has been rough.
Nevertheless, I am managing the best I can with staying busy at home with my limitations, but I am managing my overall health through the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. I will go over on a later post of my experience thus far with the VA from my perspective, especially with dealing with mental health care. Now let’s move on to today’s post.
Mesothewhata…..Mesothelioma is a rare and often aggressive form of cancer that is associated with asbestos exposure. Typically, most people associate mesothelioma as just a lung cancer, but there are 3 other types of mesotheliomas. Granted these days, asbestos is rarely used and not as common as it used to be 30 or more years ago. I am talking about service vets and other professional workers who were exposed to asbestos from the 1930s to the 1970s. So why talk about mesothelioma on a mental health website?
Just as with other medical conditions that affect our body, mesothelioma takes a great toll on mental health for the patient and their families as well. Dealing with the physical limitations alone is unrelenting, but the mental aspect of short life expectancy if left untreated can lead many to spiral down in depression and anxiety due to the fear of having cancer. These mental health issues apply to those who are suffering from non-malignant asbestos-related disease (ARD) such as lung fibrosis and pleural thickening with or without lung function impairment (Lang et al., 2019). Some patients might simply not fight it and refuse to get more in-depth medical examination.
Veterans account for 30% of the estimated 3,000 mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the U.S. military used thousands of asbestos-containing products to strengthen, insulate and fireproof military bases, ships, aircraft and land vehicles. Servicemen and servicewomen could encounter asbestos in base housing and almost everywhere they worked (pleuralmesothelioma,2021).
There is hope, Mesothelioma Vets(2021) describes that when veterans seek adequate mental health treatments, positive effects can include improved cancer survival, research suggests. Researchers observed over 50,000 veterans through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2000, to 2011. Medical professionals were also treating a portion of this group for lung cancer. Those who struggled with mental complications or substance abuse disorder lived exponentially longer than those who didn’t enroll in support programs at all. In fact, researchers noted a 25 percent (approximate) reduction in cancer mortality among veterans who had attained support. Doctors noticed mental health treatment and social programs incrementally improve their patients’ lives and overall health.
Please, checkout the following resources and visit Pleural Mesothelioma Center website, listed below. This website has valuable information covering many of the common questions associated with this deadly disease and provides content directed towards veterans and people who are suffering with or might be undiagnosed with mesothelioma.
Big shout out to Samantha Litten, Public Outreach Coordinator at Pleural Mesothelioma Center, for reaching out to me and providing me some insight about what the Center does and the information/awareness they bring to those in need.