Written by: Erika O’Donnell

With the holidays quickly approaching, we look forward to celebrating this special time of year with our loved ones but recognize that it is a difficult time of year for many of our clients and their families. A diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma can be devastating to a family and the thought of future holidays without a loved one can certainly make the holiday season very difficult for the families of those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma.

When someone is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease their family typically rallies around that person to provide support, comfort and care. Loved ones are so wrapped up in caring for their loved one that they do not always take the time to take care of themselves and deal with their own grief and loss due to the diagnosis. A caregiver spends their time driving their loved one to appointments, making sure that their loved one is taking all of the correct medicines, eating properly and is as comfortable as possible all while maintaining a home, paying bills and educating themselves and their family on their loved ones diagnosis and prognosis. This can be extremely taxing on any one person and caregivers may feel stressed out, alone and depressed. As difficult as it seems, caregivers must take care of themselves!

Tips for Caregivers:

  • Take Frequent Breaks: Although it doesn’t seem possible to take breaks away from your loved one that needs your full attention, steal away time when you can. If someone comes to visit your loved one, do not feel that you have to entertain them. Take that time for yourself.
  • Accept Offers of Help: When friends and family offer to help they mean it! It is difficult to know how to help in situations where someone has been diagnosed with a serious disease so don’t be afraid to tell trusted friends and family what they can do to help out. Whether it is asking them to bring over a meal, to drive your loved one to an appointment or to come over and make you laugh, they will appreciate knowing how to help you and you will have some much needed help.
  • Exercise: Taking time to do something for yourself is important. Take a walk around the block to clear your head or take a class that you enjoy.
    Create a Way to Get Information Out: Taking care of a loved one is a full time job and as much as you may appreciate the constant calls asking for updates it can be exhausting trying to keep everyone informed. Create a way to update your friends and family without having to continually call each and every one of them. Options include:

    • Private group on Facebook: You could set up a private group which would allow you to send private information to only those who you would like to have that information
    • Create a blog: A blog would allow you to communicate with anyone that wanted information on you and your loved one. They are easy and free to set up using the WordPress website – https://wordpress.com/.
    • Start a telephone tree: Give each person in your group a person to call when there is news. Call the first person on your list and ask that they call their contact person to share the news and contact the next person in line.
  • Join a Support Group: There are many local support groups for caregivers which allow a caregiver to get the support that they need to continue on with their very difficult support role. Check with your local hospitals or see the list below:

At Shepard Law we are fortunate to meet many wonderful clients and their supportive caregivers. We recognize that a diagnosis of mesothelioma does not only affect the person being diagnosed with the disease. During this holiday season we wanted to take the time to thank the tireless caregivers that show such amazing strength, resilience, and compassion while taking care of their loved who have been diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one is an undergoing treatment for lung cancer or mesothelioma and would like to learn more about your rights please call us for free, confidential consultation (617) 451-9191.