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Keytruda

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NurseThis past week encouraging news came out regarding Merck pharmaceutical drug Keytruda and patients with previously untreated advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Keytruda is a drug that harnesses the immune system to attack tumors. It is an immunotherapy drug that works by targeting a protein called PD-1- programmed death receptors. It is thought that the cancer cells do not allow the white cells to attack and kill the cancer cells as they normally would do with other foreign invading toxins. The clinical trial that the news came from was presented by Dr. Leena Gandhi of New York University, Perlmutter Cancer Center and reported at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago. The study showed that Keytruda was useful when added to the standard chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer, which is the type of lung cancer most commonly found in people that smoke. By adding Keytruda the one-year survival rate increased from 49% to 69% as compared to the group who received the standard chemotherapy only.

Keytruda whose generic name is Pembrolizumab, has been used to treat many different types of cancer. It has been used with some degree of success in patients with melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the stomach, head, neck, and bladder. The total sales for the treatment with Keytruda was a total of 3.8 billion, with an average cost of $150,000 per year, per patient.  Keytruda is administered intravenously. The common side effects are nausea, anemia and fatigue. The standard chemotherapy treatment used in the study and for non-small cell lung cancer is pemextred and carboplatin in the control group with Keytruda in the other group.

The only approved chemotherapy treatment in the United States is pemextred and cisplatin.  Scientists are excited about the possibilities that immunological drugs can offer to patients with a variety of cancers. It is not a one size fit all approach. All the additions and timing of when to administer the chemotherapy with or without the immunological drugs has to be studied through clinical trials that are carefully regulated.

For patients with malignant mesothelioma the number of patients is small. With approximately 2,500 to 3,000 patients a year diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in the United States per year, the challenge is to encourage enrollment in clinical trials that patients may qualify for. Other immunological drugs are also showing promising results with malignant mesothelioma.

The timing of treatment is critical. Diagnosis with malignant mesothelioma can sometimes take time due to the rarity of the disease, and most symptoms mimic other more common diseases. The importance of knowing what clinical trials that the patient with malignant mesothelioma may be eligible for is how progress to a cure is going to happen.

Currently there are 13 studies listed on www.clinicaltrials.gov that are studying Keytruda/ Pembrolizumab and malignant mesothelioma. Of that 13, 2 are not actively recruiting patients, 10 are recruiting, and one has been withdrawn.

Progress is exciting! Encouraging continued participation in clinical trials is the way forward both scientifically and economically.

Investigate the possibilities, www.clinicaltrials.gov

Comfort Care

Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma NurseWhen it was announced on Sunday April 15th that Barbara Bush, the wife of one President and the mother of another, would be receiving comfort care, there was confusion as to what that meant. Comfort care refers to focusing on the symptoms of a disease and not focusing on curing the disease at the end of life. Hospice and palliative care are forms of comfort care. Comfort care is about maintaining dignity and managing patient’s symptom and maximizing the quality of the time that a person has left. The goal is care and not a cure of the underlying disease. There is a shift from fighting the disease to fighting the symptoms, the pain, and shortness of breath or whatever the symptoms may be.

The decision to change the focus of care is a personal one. Mrs. Bush chose to stop trips to the hospital for further aggressive treatment. Her choice and the choice of any patient who choses comfort care at the end of life, does not mean the patient is not cared for. We are all mortal, we all have a limited time on this earth. Although we know this in our head most of us avoid talking and dealing with this inevitable conclusion to our time on earth. Mrs. Bush announcement included a quote, “Life has been good and while more would be great this is enough.”

By opening up the conversation regarding care at the end of life it brings attention to a topic that most people are not comfortable with, our own mortality. April 16th, 2018 had been declared National Healthcare Decision Day. Medicare has a Voluntary Advance Care Planning benefit for people to make important decisions that give them control over the type of care they receive at end of life, and when they receive it. There are organizations that are trying to bring the importance of thinking about end of life issues and what our wishes are, to the forefront. The Conversation Project, End of Life Resources for Patients and Families, www.caregiver.org, www.nia.nih.gov, are all resources that can be used to start the conversation.

The choice is a one that not all family members arrive at or understand in the same time frame. Some patients look upon this decision as empowering. There is also some confusion as some patients and family members look upon this as “giving up.”

For many patients with malignant mesothelioma the end of the journey may come after months or years of dealing with disabling symptoms, along with having some quality time. It is very important that you speak to your medical team and make your wishes known.

Thank you, Barbara Bush for sharing so much of your private life and most intimate wishes.
Because of you this will give the power and courage to help people guide themselves through the pathway to the end of life. Hopefully the door has been opening to change the culture to openly talk about what matters most to all of us at end of life and share it with our loved ones.

MLC Law Firms Win $117 Million Mesothelioma Verdict Against J&J

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Talc Mesothelioma Verdict for Stephen Lanzo

Pictured: MesoLawyersCare attorneys Joseph Satterley (left), Moshe Maimon (middle) and Denyse Clancy (right) after this historic verdict.

April 11, 2018 – Two of the MesoLawyersCare law firms, working together for our deserving mesothelioma client, won a historic victory today in New Jersey state court against Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. (“J&J”), and Imerys Talc America, Inc. (“Imerys”), a supplier of the talc. The jury unanimously found that Steve Lanzo’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson’s talc baby powder and Shower to Shower products. The trial proceeded in two phases: the liability and punitive damages phase. Last week, after a three-month trial, the jury awarded $37 million dollars to compensate Steve and Kendra Lanzo for their damages resulting from Mr. Lanzo’s mesothelioma. Today, the jury awarded an additional $80 million dollars in punitive damages, consisting of $55 million against J&J and $25 million against Imerys.

Both J&J and Imerys continue to claim that their talc never contained asbestos. However, the jury rejected this argument, unanimously finding that Mr. Lanzo breathed in asbestos from his use of J&J’s talc powders. In its verdict, the jury also decided unanimously that both defendants failed to adequately warn about the health hazards of asbestos in their talc. The jury was also asked to decide whether Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower were “defective” products as the result of being unreasonably dangerous. The jurors all agreed that the products were defective because it contained asbestos and J&J had a safer feasible alternative design (corn starch) that they could have sold instead of its talcum powder. The MesoLawyerCare attorneys devoted themselves to the Lanzo family and this cause in order to win this important victory. The team of MesoLawyersCare attorneys presented a large number of previously confidential corporate documents regarding asbestos in talc for the jurors to view and consider in deciding the case.

This trial was the first mesothelioma case in which J&J has been held responsible for asbestos in its baby powder talc products. There have been previous verdicts against J&J in ovarian cancer cases, but those cases have not centered around the presence of asbestos in the talc and did not involve mesothelioma. The documents unsealed in court, which came from the defendants’ confidential files, dated back to the 1960s and 1970s. These documents showed that the companies knew that there was asbestos in the talc used in Johnson’s Baby Powder, but failed to provide any warnings to customers about this severe hazard. The jury was also shown documents showing that J&J could have replaced its talc baby powder with a safer alternative (corn starch) but failed to do so because of marketing and litigation concerns. One of the documents from 1977, indicated that J&J had done market testing showing that most customers preferred corn starch baby powder (a substance that is 100% asbestos-free).

The United States government has never regulated cosmetic talc powder products. The companies instead “self-regulated” and opted to primarily use a test method that they knew lacked the sensitivity needed to identify asbestos in talc. In the 1990s and 2000s, additional testing and correspondence put J&J on notice that there was asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder. One of these reports, from the 1990s, was a published article that identified a talc sample as “Sample I” that contained asbestos fibers. It was not until litigation with J&J in 2017, that it was revealed that J&J had documentation that “Sample I” (which contained asbestos) was Johnson’s Baby Powder, purchased off-the-shelf in the 1990s.

Evidence was introduced at trial showing that, in 2008, Imerys’ head of product stewardship made a monopoly board called “License to Market” for selling talc. On this monopoly board, a skull and cross bones and “DANGER” were placed next to squares marked “Public perception” and “Litigation”.

At the punitive damages phase of this trial, Imerys’ Chief Financial Officer testified that Imerys Talc America’s Board of Directors had not discussed making any changes as a result of the jury’s finding that there was asbestos in the company’s talc. J&J did not have a corporate representative testify during the punitive damages phase of the verdict.

The dedicated lawyers and staff from all the MesoLawyersCare law firms are proud to announce this important verdict for the Lanzo family. We are also hopeful that our victory in this case will help others diagnosed with mesothelioma resulting from exposure to asbestos from dangerous talcum powder products, and that these companies will stop using talc in baby powder and body powder products.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact us so that we can see if MesoLawyersCare can help you. Our firms have collectively recovered over $10 billion dollars for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. As this verdict shows, we are willing to take on powerful corporations to get our clients the justice they deserve. You can contact us today by calling the phone number on this page, typing into the “live chat” with one of our representatives now, or filling out the form on this page.

Dignity

Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma Nurse“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” In 1948, after World War Two this declaration with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is thought of as the beginning of the modern-day human rights movement.

Dignity is the one thing we all value and take for granted. We just assume we are going to function independently and our goals will be met. Diseases like Mesothelioma try to rob individuals of their dignity. It is hard as a loved one to witness a person struggle and not jump in and take over. I have watched an individual over the last few months become plagued by the disease and continue to maintain his independence and dignity. From an outsider’s viewpoint everything seems to be such a struggle and it is heartbreaking to watch. We recently had a conversation about some of his activities that he does independently. As he explained to me, the physical symptoms are the hardest. Shortness of breath is one and the fluid has made his mobility almost impossible. There are a few activities that he still enjoys and feels he can still do. As he continues to control his medical journey independently he has learned to ask for help when needed. The activities that he performs independently he hangs onto and is unwilling to give up despite the thoughts of others. Perhaps his family or friends could do it quicker or better, but he still can do it. We must respect what people can do despite how it appears on the outside. We all need to know we can perform somethings independently.

As we watch so many people battle with their illnesses we realize all we really can do is support them. Sometimes just watching can be the hardest but possibly the most important. Often, we can be guilty thinking “if that was me I would do this.”. Truth be told I believe no one really knows what they would do. For this individual he continues to fight despite what others think he should do. The one thing Mesothelioma has not stolen is his power to make decisions about how he will travel through his journey. Choices are freedom and he continue to make these for himself.

This has to be one of the hardest parts of watching someone deal with Mesothelioma, how it steals someone’s self- worth. How do we help someone preserve this component that makes us all individuals? Being able to care for ourselves independently gives us self-worth. For this person the mere task of dressing, putting on shoes, still provides self-worth. It would be easier for a loved one to step in and do some or all of it, and sure would be quicker, but we must allow a person to continue to provide himself with the simple tasks of caring for himself. No doubt the fight and will are still there so we must support these people. Taking over for a loved one who is having difficulty with anything can dash their hopes and dreams. If we don’t allow patients to try, then what have we left them with.

Mindfulness

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NurseBeing diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is a life altering event. How does one handle and function when facing the voice in your head that cannot be turned off? A growing number of patients are finding relief in a way of thinking known as mindfulness.

One definition of mindfulness in Psychology Today is: “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”

Mindfulness is a way to “rewire the brain for the better.” This is not a new technique it has roots that go back thousands of years to Buddhism and Hinduism. The modern-day movement is thought to have started in the 1970’s. In 1975 the Insight Meditation Society was started by 3 people. Another leader is Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with starting the conversation regarding the clinical effects of mindfulness. In the late 1970’s he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester Ma. He currently is a Professor of Medicine Emeritus at UMASS. He developed a stress reduction and relaxation program called “Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR), putting mindfulness in scientific context. His program is 8 weeks long, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and continues to be taught and practiced.

Mindfulness must be practiced. It is not something that clears your mind of all thoughts and concerns, it is not a way to relax. It takes time and practice to incorporate it into your life and get results. It helps both the mind and spirit. Meditation is a part of mindfulness.

There are classes available to learn about mindfulness. Cancer Centers, or Centers for Integrative Health Care, might have one available or be able to tell you were the nearest one is. There are classes available on line, books, apps, all different ways to learn about mindfulness.

One book, Mindfulness- Based Cancer Recovery, by Linda Carlson, includes research that shows mindfulness can lead to a 65% reduction in stress symptoms, has a measurable biological affect, slows the cells aging and maintained the shortening of telomeres. According to Carlson, “the goal is to focus on the events in your life as they are instead of ruminating about what could have been or what might still be.”

In a 2017 pilot study a researcher from the Mayo Clinic, Robert Benzo MD, found that people with lung cancer who practiced mindfulness before and after lung surgery, had fewer complications and better lung function.

A study published by Britta Holzel, a research fellow at Harvard and Giessen University in Germany, demonstrated that through meditation, the brain was able to create new gray matter. Practicing meditation can play an active part in increasing our quality of life, while helping reduce a number of symptoms.

People diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and their loved ones are under enormous stress. Practicing mindfulness may be a way of letting go what you cannot change and become comfortable in the present moment.

Review Your Nutrition

Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma NurseThe role of nutrition before, during, and after a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma or any cancer is being studied and the results are constantly evolving. The basic information is that your personal diet should fit your taste, contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and be affordable for you. Generally, it is recommended that your diet be low in salt, saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

The National Cancer Institute has a division, Nutritional Science Research Group, in the Division of Cancer Prevention, whose purpose is to, “promote and support studies, establishing a comprehensive understanding of the precise role of diet and food components in modulating cancer risk and tumor cell behavior.” On Cancer.gov, there are results of studies that have been conducted and their connection with cancer.

Research has shown that you can reduce your chance of getting cancer or improve your chances of recovering from it by making conscious decisions about what you eat. We all have heard through the media many propositions for what someone should eliminate but one of the most promising diets is a plant-based one which eliminates meat, dairy and eggs. Back in 2012 there was an analysis of all the studies that concluded that vegetarians have significantly lower cancer rates. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute showed that vegans have lower rates of cancer than meat eaters and vegetarians. What is it that makes vegan and vegetarians less prone to cancer? When eating animal protein, the growth hormone called IGF-1 is increased. By performing studies that collect blood from meat-eaters, vegans, and vegetarians and placing it on human cells growing in a petri dishes, the results showed that those who ate more plant- based diets were found to suppress the growth of different types of cancer. Additionally, research has shown that being overweight can be a risk factor for cancer.

When you are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma you may lack hope and doubt that a diet change is going to improve your outcome. Despite what the cancer will bring, you may feel better by just making some positive changes. Your whole diet does not have to change overnight but simple steps can improve your overall health and outlook. The American Cancer Research encourages us to eat a diet where our plates are filled with 2/3 of plant- based foods.

We know that Mesothelioma is not related to diet but the overall control of how you treat and fuel your body may feel empowering. Possibly you do not want to change your diet and you are satisfied with your nutritional status and that is fine. Although there is not one study that could provide all the answers, find what is right for you and give it a try.

There are a lot of healthy foods and vitamins widely available to all. Supplements can help a limited diet but, unfortunately one vitamin cannot take place of a food that would otherwise be full of it. Many times, vitamins work with other vitamins and not individually so that should be considered when making food choices. Remember it is quality over quantity; if you cannot get fresh vegetable, try the frozen version. Always remember something is better than nothing.

Sleep Week

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NurseWhen dealing with a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma it is vital to take the best possible care of yourself. One of the ways to do that is to get enough sleep. The amount of sleep that can provide you with optimal physical health, optimum immune function, mental health, and cognition, is what you need to obtain. This is often easier to say and to intellectually know but to achieve can be challenging.

Mesothelioma SleepSleep is a basic need of the body for physical and psychological well-being. The importance of sleep for best health cannot be underestimated. Sleep is something that has been undervalued by many of us. The amount of sleep we need varies with age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults age 18-64 should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Age 65 years and older 7 to 8 hours are recommended. Infants and younger people require more sleep. Over time not sleeping, called short sleep deprivation, can lead to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and all-cause mortality. The immediate effects of not getting enough sleep are irritability, negativity, bad mood, inability to concentrate, short term memory loss, apathy, poor communication and questionable decision making.

Sleep and its effect on the human body is studied by sleep doctors. These specialized experts are called somnologist- from the word “somnus” meaning sleep. These physicians have additional training in the science of sleep medicine and are board certified by the American College of Sleep Medicine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is dedicated to achieving optimum health through advancing the field of sleep medicine at the state and local levels.

There have been many studies conducted regarding sleep and its effects. In our culture often people admire someone who claims to get only 4 hours of sleep a night. In one study nearly 30% of adults in the United States reported that they sleep 6 or fewer hours a week.

Research has shown that long-term sleep disruptions may raise the risk of diagnosis of certain types of cancer. The findings that lack of sleep increases inflammation and disrupts normal immune function. Involved in the sleep cycle is a hormone called melatonin, which we produce with sleep, this hormone is thought to have antioxidant properties that help prevent cellular damage.

March 11-17 is Sleep Awareness Week. “Begin with Sleep” (#YourDayBeginsWithSleep), the focus of this week is to educate people about the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals. The week is sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to improving health and well being through sleep education and advocacy.

Being diagnosed with cancer can lead to sleepless nights. In the middle of the night unable to sleep our darkest fears can seem to be reality. It is important when this happens that we realize that what we think at 4 a.m. is often shrouded in lack of sleep, and a negative hopeless frame of mind. It is important for all of us to take care of ourselves and get enough sleep for our physical and emotional well-being.

“The best bridge between despair and hope is getting a good night’s sleep.” – E. Joseph Cossman

Mesothelioma TV Commercials

Everyone has seen commercials for mesothelioma on television. When you are watching the news or a football game or your favorite show, you see commercials targeting people diagnosed with mesothelioma. Some of these commercials offer a free mesothelioma book, while others talk about a 30 billion dollar asbestos trust fund. What should people diagnosed with mesothelioma and their family members make of these TV commercials?

1. Any Law Firm Can Run a TV Commercial.

It’s important to keep in mind that any lawyer or law firm can pay money to run a TV commercial. This does not mean that the law firm or lawyer has any experience or track-record in actually litigating mesothelioma cases. A law firm can have a commercial on TV even if the law firm has never won a single jury verdict in a mesothelioma case. If you watch closely, you will see the name of the law firm that put the commercial on TV at the very end of the commercial. You can read the name of the firm and research the firm to find out: if they actually have a proven track-record in mesothelioma cases, if their attorneys have good credentials and if they have handled mesothelioma cases similar to yours.

2. The Firm Running the TV Commercial May Not Handle Your Case.

You may be surprised to know that there are lawyers that run TV commercials that do not actually file and litigate the claims for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. Many firms advertising on TV will come and meet with you and have you sign a contract and then send your case to a litigation firm that primarily works on the case. Marketing and litigation require different skills and focus. Some firms are very skilled in marketing and running very polished and persuasive TV commercials. Other firms put their focus on litigating cases including trying mesothelioma cases in front of juries. Some firms are skilled in both marketing and litigating. However, there is no way to make this judgment about the firm based on a 30 second TV commercial.

3. If You Found MesoLawyersCare, Then You’ve Been Doing Your Homework

If you are reading this, then you have decided to research which attorney would be best for your mesothelioma case. You have decided that you are not going to base your decision solely on a 30 second TV commercial. And if you have found MesoLawyersCare, you have done your homework in finding the group of attorneys that together have accomplished more for families affected by mesothelioma than any other group of attorneys. We are four firms that have come together to provide the highest level of representation for mesothelioma victims from coast-to-coast. While you are on our website, you can take more time than the 30 seconds it takes to watch a TV commercial. Read about us. Read about our verdicts and settlements. Read about some of our attorneys. See why people choose MesoLawyersCare.

The choice of an attorney for a mesothelioma case is very important. It is one of the biggest facts that will affect how much your case is worth. Just like you would not choose a surgeon to operate on your mesothelioma, based on a TV commercial, you should do research to find the law firm that can best help you.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to find out how we can help you with your mesothelioma case. We also can connect you with experienced mesothelioma nurses who can help guide you through the medical decisions you are making. We are proud to have recovered more than 10 billion dollars for mesothelioma victims and families. We are also proud that we give back to fund mesothelioma research and patient services. Connect with us now to see if we can help you, by (1) using the phone number on this page, (2) starting a live chat, or (3) filling out the form on this website.

Yoga – A Successful Treatment

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NurseOne of the side effects that patients undergoing treatment for cancer often notice is fatigue. Doctors that study fatigue related to cancer treatment have found that the interventions that are prescribed fall into three categories. The first is treatment of a physiological problem like anemia, the second is drugs to stimulate the patient such as amphetamines. The third, and most successful is to suggest an exercise program such as yoga. Research is showing that yoga can help with pain and fatigue for patients undergoing cancer treatments. Used in conjunction with standard medical therapy, yoga is included as the third most popular complementary treatment used in the United States.

Yoga Cancer MesotheliomaYoga is an ancient practice of at least 5000 years, there are more than 100 different forms of yoga varying from fast paced to relaxing. The practice of yoga can help increase strength, endurance, and flexibility. Hatha is the form of yoga that most people think of when they think of yoga. The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” meaning yoke or union. Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. One of the premises being that mental and physical health are not just closely tied together they are equivalent. For many yoga is a low risk, high yield approach to improving overall health. Yoga has been described as a total mind -body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses called asanas, with breathing exercises known as pranayama, and meditation or relaxing.

The past few years have shown an increase in the number of people who practice yoga. It is estimated that approximately 7.5% of U.S. adults have tried yoga at least once- nearly 4% in the previous year. A survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and The Yoga Journal, the results noted in an article in Forbes March 15,2016, stated yoga is being practiced by 37 million people in the United States up from 20 million, 3 years ago. Of that number 72% are women and 28% are men. The coasts of the United States are where yoga is most popular rather than in the middle of the country. One study identified some of the reasons people are trying yoga is 61% for flexibility, 56% stress relief, 49% general fitness, 49% overall health, 44% physical fitness, 86% experience a strong sense of mental clarity and 90% yoga is a form of meditation.

What are some of the effects of yoga on your health?

– Yoga can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful with both anxiety and depression.

– University of Utah study showed that people that have a poorly regulated response to stress are also more sensitive to pain.

– Techniques such as yoga, can help a person regulate their stress and pain responses.

– Can decrease the levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone- helps lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression

– Studies have shown that practicing yoga can lead to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety

– May reduce inflammatory markers in the body and help prevent pro-inflammatory diseases

– Could improve heart health- alone or with other therapies

– Improves quality of life

– Fights depression by decreasing symptoms of depression by influencing the production of stress hormones

– Reduce chronic pain increasers the secretion of melatonin a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness

– Improves balance and mobility in older adults

– Yoga may stimulate the vagus nerve and reduce migraine intensity and frequency- alone or with conventional therapy

– Mindful eating- yoga encourages mindfulness which may be used to help promote mindful eating and healthy eating habits

Yoga has many health benefits, is affordable, and open to people of all ages. It may help in your journey with mesothelioma.

Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, PTSD

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NursePost-traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD, is something that a lot of people associate with seeing or being involved in a traumatic event such as service in the military, it can also extend to being diagnosed with cancer. PTSD can develop at any age, and not everyone diagnosed with PTSD has been through a traumatic event. A friend or family member may experience a trauma, or a sudden unexpected death can lead a loved one to experience PTSD.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines post-traumatic stress syndrome as, “an anxiety disorder that develops in reaction to physical injury or severe mental or emotional distress, such as military combat, violent assault, natural disaster, or other life-threatening events.”

Often when a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma it is after eliminating other more common diseases. This time can be an emotional roller coaster. For many it is mentally going from their usual excellent health to maybe a common condition like pneumonia, or an infection, to a diagnosis of a rare deadly cancer. The symptoms might have started as annoying, through the work up and elimination of other diseases it becomes a process that indicates a life altering diagnosis.

A recent article in the journal Cancer in November 2017, found that approximately one in five cancer patients reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder within six months of diagnosis. After four years, about 6% of patients had PTSD.

In general PTSD affects approximately 3.5% or about 8 million, of the people in the United States. Not everyone that has experienced a traumatic event develops PTSD. Consisting of ongoing- chronic -or short term -acute- PTSD the symptoms can develop within one month of the traumatic event or years after. PTSD affects more women than men. Generally, the symptoms are divided into four different groups: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, changes in physical and emotional reactions. The diagnosis is made for adults they must have these symptoms for at least one month, at least one re-experiencing symptom. These symptoms can cause issues in everyday life. They can include flashbacks- reliving the traumatic event over and over and experiencing it physically. Avoidance symptoms which include staying away from places, events, or objects, that remind the person of the traumatic event and avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event. The 3rd symptom includes arousal and reactivity symptoms that include being easily startled, feeling tense, difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts. These symptoms are constant, leaving the person angry and stresses and with difficulty doing activities of daily living. The fourth category of symptoms are cognition and mood symptoms which include trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts, distorted feelings of guilt or blame and loss of interest in enjoyable activities. When symptoms last more than a month, interfere with your ability to function and cannot be attributed to other mental health issues, substance abuse, medical issues it might be PTSD.

Treatment for PTSD includes medications, commonly an anti-depressant and psychotherapy – talking with a competent mental health professional who is knowledgeable in PTSD. Talk therapy with a competent professional can last 6- 12 weeks but for many people it can last a lot longer. With help the symptoms can improve gradually. Support of friends and relatives is also important, letting them into what triggers your symptoms also can help.

Post – traumatic stress disorder is a very serious condition, it can upset your relationships, livelihood, and your health. It is vital that the symptoms be recognized and to seek help. PTSD can be treated and managed but not cured. Reach out get help, improve your life and the lives of those who love you!

Comprehensive Mesothelioma Centers

Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma NurseOne may ask what happens when you arrive at a comprehensive mesothelioma center. What is the difference between a local doctor and a doctor with years of experience? First of all, a comprehensive mesothelioma center offers customized treatment for each individual. This is not a cookie cutter package where everyone has the same treatment method. Every diagnosis is unique and treated individually. A person will have a battery of tests that will tell exactly where the mesothelioma is and what condition the body is in. There are a variety of options that may be presented to you. While treatments may appear similar to another person’s, I assure you no two treatment plans are the same.

Most often the hardest question asked is what do you want? As we sit in a generalized orientation meeting it is explained that this factor is just as important as any other medical decision. Some people despite how minimal or advanced their disease, want everything done. Other patients may take a different route and choose to take a more passive option. Emotionally this can be difficult. This question requires reflection and conversations with your loved ones. Most people who enter our center have decided they want some treatment but have no idea what their options are. There is no right or wrong answer, and everyone is entitled to make their own decision.

Everyone’s body is different, with its own strengths and weaknesses. This is another reason for all the tests that must be done. Each organ needs to be evaluated for the treatment plan. Some people feel that all of these tests are overkill. However, it is important to remember knowledge is power. Think of your body as a machine with its own assets. While nothing is one hundred percent guaranteed, the more information we have about your body the better we can devise a treatment plan. The other factor involves one’s mental state, what has this diagnosis done to you mentally? If your diagnosis has caused anxiety, restless nights, fear and worry, you are not alone. These emotions are real and can make you feel overwhelmed. Most comprehensive centers offer social workers, chaplaincy and psychiatrists. A serious illness like this can cause emotional issues and you are not alone. Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center have found that 77 percent of people with a terminal illness experience depression. Remember there is no right way to feel about your illness, but it is good to identify these emotions and share with people how you are feeling. Another feature of a comprehensive mesothelioma center is support groups. These centers often provide support groups related to your illness. There are other people who are going through what you are currently experiencing or have been through something similar.

At the end of the day one needs to know they made the best choices possible about their health. It really is about being comfortable about your decisions. Not everyone chooses to travel to a mesothelioma center and that is fine. Often people prefer to stay close to home because that is what works. As research and treatment options continue to progress hopefully the ingredients to a successful treatment plan will be shared and will be available to other areas of the medical community.

How Much is My Case Worth? Three Important Factors.

Mesothelioma Case ValueWhen patients and families contact MesoLawyersCare, one of the most common questions asked of us is: How much is my case worth?

The answer to these questions is that “it depends” on many factors. Based on the decades of experience of the the four firms that comprise MesoLawyersCare, three important factors that affect the value of your mesothelioma case are:

1. The Identification of Asbestos-Containing Products Made or Sold by Specific Companies in Your Case:

Many people have been led to believe that if someone has mesothelioma, then they automatically will be paid a large amount of money. This is not true. One of the most important factors that will influence how much a mesothelioma case is worth is whether there is solid evidence of exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured or sold by specific companies. The identification of a product manufacturer or seller is known as “Product I.D.” in asbestos litigation. This evidence usually takes the form of eyewitness testimony by the person who used the asbestos-containing products or other eyewitnesses (such as co-workers). For example, if a person who developed mesothelioma worked as an auto mechanic and was exposed to asbestos from performing brake repairs, this does not necessarily mean that any company that made asbestos-containing brakes will agree to pay or be required to by a jury. The case would require “Product I.D.” evidence that the person diagnosed with mesothelioma was exposed to dust from brakes manufactured or sold by a particular company or companies.

2. The Location Where Your Case Can be Filed:

Another important factor that will impact the value of a mesothelioma case is the places in which the particular case is able to be filed. There are certain locations or courts (known as “jurisdictions”) where the value of cases typically is higher. However, there are rules regarding what cases are allowed to be filed in which jurisdictions. A mesothelioma case can usually be fled in a jurisdiction where some of the asbestos exposure occurred. However, the case can also be filed in other jurisdictions, including the place where the defendants are headquartered or committed wrongful acts relating to the case. If the case can only be filed in “lower value” jurisdictions, then the case is more likely to have a lower value. On the other hand, if the case can be properly file in a “higher value” jurisdiction, then the chances of obtaining a higher case valued are increased. Factors influencing whether a jurisdiction is “higher value” versus “lower value” include: whether punitive damages are available, whether there is a history of high jury verdicts and the legal claims that are available to pursue in the particular jurisdiction.

3. The Lawyers You Choose For Your Case:

All mesothelioma lawyers are not equally qualified or experienced. The value of your mesothelioma case in the hands of one firm can have a much different value as compared to the value of the same case in the hands of another firm. The most important reasons for choosing MesoLawyersCare and for the success of our firms in representing families affected by mesothelioma are: Experience, Resources, Proven Track Record and Commitment. The Experience comes from a group of more than 70 attorneys who have been doing this work for more than 3 generations. We have seen essentially every different type of asbestos exposure in mesothelioma cases. The Resources comes from the combination of 4 successful law firms with offices, attorneys and investigators located throughout the United States. The Proven Track Record comes from decades of verdicts and settlements for our clients. For more information on this, see our verdicts and settlements page. Our Commitment is shown by our willingness to take on the most challenging mesothelioma cases, the close relationships we have with our clients, and our continuing contributions to mesothelioma research, which is part of the mission of MesoLawyersCare.

The three factors discussed above are important to consider in determining what your mesothelioma case may be worth. Keep in mind, that the most important first step is verifying that the diagnosis of mesothelioma exists in a particular case and that the case can be filed by the applicable statute of limitations. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact us now (using the phone number, live chat or form on this website), so we can see if we can help you with your case.

Financial Toxicity

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma NurseA diagnosis of cancer can affect every aspect of a person’s life. We know that receiving a diagnosis of a rare, life threatening cancer such as malignant mesothelioma, can cause stress for both the patient and the patient’s family. Stress can be caused by many factors, physical, emotional and social. One of the goals of the patient, family and medical team when deciding on treatment is the effect on the person’s quality of life. Is the treatment going to maintain their quality of life? The stress can be significantly increased when the patient and the patient’s family also is worried about money. There are costs associated with treatment that are covered and not covered by private insurance or Medicare. These out of pocket expenses, co-pays for medications, co-pays for doctors’ visits, parking, eating at the facility, hotel rooms, are some of the examples that patients and families have to pay for when being treated for cancer. For some the effect on their personal finances can affect their choice of treatment options and their quality of life.

The cost to a patient’s health, due to the stress of financial problems created during cancer treatments is not something that is being ignored by the health care team. The impact of finances on a patient’s cancer journey is now being studied by many health care researchers. A few facts are listed below:

– The term “financial toxicity” refers to insured out of pocket expenses related to treatment- costs. It has been found that these expenses can diminish quality of life and impede delivery of the highest quality of care. Research has identified both objective financial burden and subjective financial distress as key components of financial toxicity

– The cost of cancer care in the United States for the year 2015 was 107 billion dollars.

– Keytruda – Pembrolizumab is $14,500 per month

– In 2014 cancer patients paid nearly 4 billion out of pocket for cancer treatments- total spending on cancer-related health care 87.8 billion in 2014

– In 2015 Americans spent 284 billion on prescriptions -about 9%- 32.6 billion spent on oncology drugs- another 11.1 billion spent on supportive care treatments which help with the side effects of strong chemotherapy drugs

– Newly approved cancer drugs cost an average of 10,000 dollars per month with some therapies topping 30,000 dollars per month- patients typically pay 20 to 30% out of pocket for drugs-average years supply would cost 24,000 thousand-to 36,000 thousand in addition to health insurance premiums

– Patients report lower quality of life who have financial toxicity- studies show that patients with cancer who file for bankruptcy may be more likely to die than those who do not file

– Financial difficulties that stem from dealing with cancer have an effect on people avoiding or delaying treatments, care or drugs- can lead to stress that can lead to mental and physical health problems

– 2013 study in the Oncologist found nearly half of cancer patients with insurance cut back on their spending on food and clothing or dipped into savings to pay for treatment

– Patients that have financial difficulty also have increased mental health issues

– A report commissioned by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found 27% of cancer survivors or close relatives of a cancer patient said they skipped doctor visits or had taken other steps to reduce health costs

Some of the ways that the medical system is attempting to help patients deal with this reality is trying to identify patients and screen cancer patients for financial stress. There are navigators in most hospitals that specialize in health insurance plans, and are knowledgeable about resources available. Social workers that know the community resources available are included in the health care team. General awareness has also increased to the importance of knowing the patient and his financial concerns.

Mesothelioma patients who have financial issues need to reach out for the resources that are available to them. It is vital that they use their energy to deal with their serious health challenge, and not be drained by financial concerns.

 

 

Sources:
  • U.S. News and World Report-by LacieGlover www.usnews.com/topics- July 1,2015
  • www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/2015/06/23/behind-health-insurance- premiums-continue-pay-claims
  • www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles Financial Toxicity, Part I: A New Name for a Growing Problem S.Yousuf Zafar, MD. MHS and Amy Abenathy MD- financial toxicity the patient level impact on the cost of cancer care
  • National Cancer Institute- Financial Toxicity (Financial Distress) and Cancer Treatment www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/managing-care/track-care-costs/financial-toxicity
  • Web MD- www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20171024/many-cancer-patients-skip-treatments-due-to-cost

Adjustment After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma NurseWhen someone receives a Mesothelioma diagnosis, many changes occur in their life. One of these is their identity as they are now a cancer patient. With this new identity, a new lifestyle also ensues. The new lifestyle may include chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, taking new medications and leading what seems to be an entirely different life. What consumes the bulk of a patient’s new lifestyle is often travel to and from their appointments. Fortunately, as you recover and move further away from treatments, less time can be spent in appointments.

Once you begin spending more time at home, you may ask yourself where do I go from here. Recovery can take up to 9-12 months and with that, many life adjustments may be necessary. It can be challenging to grapple with the concept that life that was once deemed impossible and now you are told that you are ok. No longer are you a cancer patient but you still might not know your identity. This can be a tough time for an individual but relying on your support group can be helpful at a time that feels quite difficult.

In order to better prepare for what your life will be like, talk to your doctor about what to expect from your body. Ask questions like “Will fatigue always be like this?”, “Will weight gain be helpful?”, and “When should I reach out if I think something is not right?”. There are a host of emotions that you may experience, and support groups and counselors are a great resource in helping you through this transitional time. Possibly during treatment, you thought of something you could do once you go home, now maybe this is the time to do it.

Another issue that many cancer patients face, is fear of recurrence. For some patients this occupies their thoughts and makes enjoying the present moment impossible. Patients have described feeling, “waiting for the sword to drop and end it,” “being sick for a week before a follow up appointment- every time- not sleeping, nightmares, feeling terribly fearful and sad.” Others become uncharacteristically short and uncommunicative with their loved ones. This happens to some patients, but there is help. Talking to a mental health professional, letting your medical team know that you are going through these emotions, support groups, all can be helpful to recognize this very real state of mind.

Finding a new normal may take months. Many survivors say that cancer changes them and how they feel about life. The things that were once so important are not such an issue. People often have mixed emotions about ending treatment. Some think they should celebrate, some feel anxious about this new freedom and many times it is a time for re-evaluation of your priorities.

To make this adjustment -assess your life. Are you doing what fulfills you? Are you doing what is important to you? Focus on each day and expect good days as well as some bad moments. Doing things at your own pace is important. Success is not a race.

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