Written by: Shepard Law Firm Staff

With Global Asbestos Awareness Week approaching (April 1–7), we want to not only raise awareness of asbestos, but also the effects that a diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma has on the family and caregivers of someone with lung cancer or mesothelioma. Therefore, let’s use this week in April as a reminder to support the individuals who spend their time and energy caring for others.

When someone is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease their family typically rallies around that person to provide support, comfort, and care. Caregivers tend to get wrapped up in caring for their loved one and don’t 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 one’s diagnosis and prognosis. This is extremely taxing on any one person and caregivers may feel stressed out, alone, or depressed. As difficult as it seems, caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves too!

If you are a caregiver, remember to:

    • Take Frequent Breaks: Although it may not seem possible to take breaks away from providing your loved one with 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’s 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. It can be as simple as asking them to bring over a meal, driving your loved one to an appointment, or coming over and making you laugh. They will appreciate knowing how to help you and you will have some much needed help.
      • A great tool that helps with this goal is a website like http://lotsahelpinghands.com/. This website helps you specify the assistance that you need and allows people in your circle of trust to sign up to provide that assistance for you. The site also provides you with a means to communicate directly with those in your private “community” to get information out.
    • 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 the constant calls asking for updates can be exhausting if you try 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: Setting up a private group will allow you to send private information to only those who you would like to have that information.
      • Create a blog: A blog allows you to communicate with anyone that wants 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:
      • Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
      • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
      • UMass Medical Center, Worcester, MA
      • Bay State Hospital, Springfield, MA
      • SouthShore, Norwell, MA

At Shepard Law, we are fortunate to meet many wonderful clients and their supportive caregivers. We recognize that a diagnosis of mesothelioma doesn’t only affect the person being diagnosed with the disease. During this week, 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 a free, confidential consultation at (617) 451-9191.