Mesothelioma is a devastating form of cancer typically linked to asbestos exposure; it’s also been the subject of many lawsuits over the last several decades. But while there are standard medical treatments for the condition, they aren’t always curative or sufficient, and many people aim to use natural or complementary approaches to managing the disease. The following approaches can all help patients survive and thrive in the face of a terrible illness.
Choose Cancer Fighting Foods
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most fundamental ways of managing any form of cancer. Most professionals recommend eating lean proteins like chicken, fish, and beans, deeply colored root vegetables like yams, squash, and potatoes, and antioxidant rich fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. All of these foods give patients energy, help minimize cancer cell proliferation, and are part of an overall healthy lifestyle. For patients who are feeling fatigued and unwell from traditional treatments, this kind of diet can provide a great physiological boost.
Another popular complementary therapy for mesothelioma patients is the use of mind-body practices such as meditation, tai chi, and qigong. These practices can help patients manage their anxiety about their health and treatments, reduce fatigue, and provide an overall sense of wellness. Some patients even experience longer survival rates by practicing these traditional exercises, while gentle yoga practices can help patients sleep better and allow them to remain active without overexerting themselves.
One of the major insights regarding mesothelioma, and cancer more generally, is that the diseased cells can’t survive in oxygen rich environments, and doctors and healthcare professionals have translated this knowledge into an innovative treatment. Ozone therapy floods the body with high levels of oxygen in order to kill off cancer cells and prevent further proliferation. Compared to many other complementary therapies, ozone therapy is one of the only supplementary mesothelioma treatments that may actually kill off cancer cells rather than just improving quality of life.
Growing Case Load
Until recently, the typical mesothelioma patient was exposed to asbestos when working construction jobs and in manufacturing, or because asbestos was used as a common fireproofing material. However, after the material’s dangers were discovered, it was phased out in favor of other materials such as sisal. More recently, though, doctors are seeing a new wave of patients: 9/11 first responders.
Overall, mesothelioma cases had been declining since most of the workers who were exposed to asbestos are now much older. However, it’s now been long enough since the September 11, 2001 tragedy that first responders are beginning to present with this form of cancer. Many had developed other respiratory diseases in the months and years following the event, but mesothelioma has a typical latency period of 20 years, and we are nearing that threshold.
The good news is that there is already a structure in place to address any cases of mesothelioma that do emerge in the coming years. The World Trade Center Health program tracks 72,000 individuals, 8,000 of whom have already received cancer diagnoses likely linked to the event. If cases of mesothelioma do strike this community, the health program will be able to provide support, including funding for treatment, and the legacy of those treated for mesothelioma in the past will inform how doctors and patients move forward. By combining traditional treatment with complementary practices, patients can continue to lead satisfying, full lives.