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asking for help with mesothelioma

Asking For Help

Eleanor Ericson Mesothelioma Nurse

Being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma can change your outlook on many things. This week, a person with mesothelioma returned to our clinic with a friend. His journey with mesothelioma has been going on for about 2 years. He has a loving wife and family and had always been a man in control. The new role of being a patient was very difficult for him. The family had said he was very social and had a lot of friends who wanted to support him. During the initial diagnosis and treatment, he had shut them out, relying on his wife and children. This is not unusual as he was still adjusting to his disease. As his mesothelioma became a chronic illness and his family had resumed their activities, he still had a hard time letting his friends back in. This appointment was different: he had asked a friend to bring him. This might seem like a small detail, but it wasn’t.

As different treatments, earlier diagnoses, and specialized care have evolved, some journeys with mesothelioma are progressing to living with mesothelioma as a chronic disease. Living with a chronic disease can be very challenging. Being diagnosed and living with mesothelioma has been described as a “team sport.” For some people there are aspects of this “team sport” that are difficult to deal with – one of them being asking for help.

Sometimes we just need help. For many of us asking for help is difficult. Many people think of asking for help as a sign of weakness. They do not want to be seen as needy. This is easy to understand because people often take pride in being independent.

There are many books devoted to helping and improving yourself. Self-help book topics include how to start a business, selling, branding yourself and just about any topic that you can think of. For your health there are books on living and eating healthy, growing older, taking care of children – again, any topic that you can think of.  Society encourages us all to help improve ourselves. Through training, diet, education and exercise you can help you be a better person.

Self-reliance and independence are encouraged from the time you are a toddler. Doing it yourself is celebrated and acknowledged as an accomplishment. People are praised as competent, strong, independent – all attributes for which we are proud.

Some people are dread asking for help. They delay it hoping things will get better. They look at asking for help as a deficiency. They fear losing control. They fear they will not be able to repay the favor.

How can you help a person feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it? The best approach is to ask early. Don’t wait until a crisis to reach out. If possible, ask in person and in private. Be straightforward with your request. Thank the person whether they help you or not.

Most people are happy to help someone else. They feel better about themselves. Everyone has their own unique gifts, insights and experiences and if asked are happy to share them with others. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Remember that the people who love you will want to help.

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