Written by: Erika O’Donnell

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is extremely difficult on the whole family. There are so many questions to be answered, so many appointments to keep track of, and so many difficult decisions to be made. However, there are things that you can do to assist a family who is dealing with a diagnosis of mesothelioma:

Set up a meal train.

  • Patients with mesothelioma and their families have many appointments to go to and preparing healthy meals after a day filled with doctors’ appointments and/or treatments is easier said than done. Organizing a meal train is a helpful way to make sure the person diagnosed with mesothelioma and his/her caregiver is getting the nutrition they need.
  • There are many websites that can help you organize and participate in providing meals to the family in need such as https://www.mealtrain.com/ or https://www.takethemameal.com/.
  • Some friends and family may prefer to purchase a gift card rather than cooking a meal. Make a list of eateries that the person being treated for mesothelioma may like a gift certificate from. Good places to suggest are eateries in the area of the hospital and/or treatment facility and take-out places close to home.

Set up a care schedule.

  • Between doctor’s visits and treatments, a person diagnosed with mesothelioma has a lot to organize and a lot to consider when choosing where to treat for their disease. In Massachusetts, we are lucky to have some of the best hospitals in the world for the treatment of mesothelioma right in Boston. For many, the choice to be treated at these hospitals brings the stress of traveling into Boston. In some cases, having someone volunteer to drive a person with mesothelioma into Boston would provide great relief.
  • A person undergoing treatment will have a variety of needs (a ride to a doctor’s appointment, an appointment to get their glasses fixed, new socks, etc.). A care website will allow the person with mesothelioma to schedule the assistance they need. Friends and family can then volunteer through the site to provide the assistance. One such site is http://lotsahelpinghands.com/.


Providing family meals is a small but meaningful way to help out families.

Spend time.

  • Mesothelioma can be a very painful and debilitating disease. Many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma also struggle with depression as a result of their diagnosis. Spending time with a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is a wonderful way to support them though their diagnosis. Remember, the patient may be suffering and is not there to entertain you. You are there to comfort them and provided some much needed respite for their caregiver.

Take care of technological needs.

Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are older and not technologically advanced. There are many apps and websites that may benefit them greatly but they may not be aware of. Take some time to help that person:

  • Skype with a grandchild who lives far away
  • Set up a Netflix queue so when they have difficulty sleeping due to pain, they don’t have to watch infomercials
  • Show them how to play Candy Crush so that they have something to pass the time while getting chemotherapy treatments

Support their lawsuit.

  • Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew of the hazards of exposure to asbestos but continued using asbestos and did not warn persons coming into contact with it to take any precautions. For that reason, many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma choose to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products that they came into contact with during their career. Asbestos can take between 15 and 60 years to cause disease in your body. Which means that in order to be successful in a lawsuit, a person with mesothelioma needs to prove the types of asbestos they were exposed to 15 – 60 years earlier. This is no easy feat. Many times, people with mesothelioma must reach out to co-workers to help them remember the products they worked with or the people they worked around. It is easy to brush off those inquiries for fear of being involved in litigation but taking those phone calls could mean a great deal to that family. Supporting the person’s lawsuit can set them up for financial assistance which will greatly help their family when paying for all the medical bills and other costs associated with treatment for mesothelioma.

For a family dealing with the consequences of mesothelioma, doing even just one of the above activities will be a great help to them. Don’t think that your small act of kindness and friendship won’t be appreciated by the family.