The Dangers of Neglecting Self-Care for Caregivers

Taking Care of Yourself isn't Selfish or Indulgent

self-careNeglecting Yourself Can Lead to Weight Gain

I learned the lesson the hard way. When my husband had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with central nervous system involvement, I didn’t take care of myself. I spent all of my energies taking care of him, trying to keep up with my job, and parent our two young children. As a result, I gained 50 pounds. Those extra 50 pounds hung around and made other aspects of my life more difficult.

self-careWhen Pedro first received his diagnosis, I had just started an exercise program after moving to a new home, new job, and a new state. For the first few months, I kept on exercising. But as his cancer progressed, I used my busyness as an excuse to avoid exercising. Instead, I should have made a firm commitment to exercise vigorously for at least thirty minutes a day. The exercise would have helped regulate my emotions as well as provided a boost to my immune system and metabolism.

During my second caregiver journey (when our college-age daughter had to move home to deal with an undiagnosed mental illness), I made a point to exercise regularly. I managed to not gain weight NOR to turn to overeating as a way to cope with the angst of caregiving.

Overeating often acts as a corrollary to not exercising. During Pedro’s illness I convinced myself (an easy task), that I deserved to eat whatever I wanted to. After all, I had put my life on hold to take care of my husband. I had earned the right to indulge.

This attitude did nothing for my health. It added to my stress as I rapidly went through my wardrobe and had to continue purchasing larger and larger sizes.

Your Attitude about Self-care Makes all the Difference

I discovered during my second caregiving journey the difference making a commitment to self-care could make in my experince. Instead of indulging myself with “I deserve to eat this” statements, I nourised myself with “I only want to feed my body good things” statements.

When I wanted to curl up in a ball of frustration over another argument with my daughter, I chose to go for a run or a long walk instead. I discovered that walking and running (without music or headphones) helped me process my angry, bewildered, frustrated, and unproductive emotions.

These two attitudes—eating to nourish myself and exercising to process emotions—kept me from gaining weight or suffering from caregiver PTSD.

Caregivers who don't take care of themselves soon run out of fuel. #caregiverptsd #caregiver #self-care Click To Tweet

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for SELF-CARE ADAVICE FOR CAREGIVERS (if your self-care advice has a story wrapped around it, that’s fine). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link. For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

Community Spotlight

This week’s community spotlight shines on Martha Grimm Brady. She cares for her husband, who suffers from stroke symptoms. This past October she wrote a series on self-care for caregivers on her blog, Gritty Grace. Take a few minutes to visit Martha and read the great advice she has to share.

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Find Valuable Resources at Caregiver Connections

Second Wednesday of the Month Highlights Resources

ResourcesResources for Caregivers

During Pedro’s battle with cancer I often felt clueless. For example, I didn’t know that hospitals made arrangements for air ambulances. I didn’t know that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society gave grants to help family members travel. The one cancer caregiving resource that I knew about (Ronald McDonald House) didn’t help out families of adults with cancer, so I figured we were on our own.

I didn’t realize that massage, aromatherapy, and essential oils could benefit my husband (and ME, a stressed-out caregiver). Caring Bridge? Never heard of it. I do know that I often felt underwater and on the brink of overwhelm.

Maybe you’ve acted as a caregiver for years, or maybe just a season. Maybe you enjoy researching things, or maybe you just feel a desperate need to figure something out. Whatever the case, we can learn from each other. This week’s link up is specifically for blog posts or pages that have useful resources for caregivers.

A ‘useful resource’ would be a post about how you found help from a helping organizaiton or agency (such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). It might include lists of local resources, hotlines, blogs you’ve discovered, or advice. If your caregiving journey has included active patricipation in support groups, share your experience with us!

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS (if your resource has a story wrapped around it, that’s fine). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link. For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

Community Spotlight

This week’s spotlight shines on Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychologist, writer, and caregiver. She interviewed a dementia caregiver, and in this post, the caregiver shares resources for dementia caregivers. Make sure you check out both the article and Dr. Bengtson’s blog!

Link up Schedule:

1st Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Stories

2nd Wednesday of the month: Resources

3rd Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Self-care

4th Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Encouragement

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We Can All Agree that Caregiving is Tough

Welcome to Caregiver Connections

caregiver connectionsMaybe You’re a Caregiver and You Didn’t Even Realize it!

We all might not agree on politics, religion, or even who should have won the Super Bowl. I think we can all agree that caregiving can wear a person down. But first of all, what defines a caregiver? Literally, ‘caregiver’ is someone who gives care to another person. I would argue that a caregiver is someone who gives that care for free, usually to a family member.

A caregiver takes on the extra responsibility for a family member who can no longer take care of herself at her usual capacity. Even if the person being cared for can do some things by herself, whoever takes up the slack turns into a caregiver.

Parents with a special needs child act as caregivers, too. Their responsibilites go above and beyond the usual rounds of what most parents do.  In addition to all that parenting entails, they have to learn new strategies for dealing with a child’s fragile health or emotional state. They have to deal with the glares from others who don’t understand that their child (who looks normal) might have special needs.

We Can All Agree that Caregiving Takes a Toll

Whether we care for an ill husband, a parent with Alzheimer’s or dimentia, or a special needs child, we can all agree that caregiving takes a toll. One of the worst parts of caregiving involves the isolation. We wonder if anyone else has ever experienced the guilt, the loneliness, the frustration, the anger, and the exhaustion that we experience. Yes! They do!

That’s what Caregiver Connection is all about! The theme for the first Wednesday of each month is caregiver stories. If you’re a caregiver, or a caregiver has touched your life in a special way, this week is for you. Link up your honest stories of what caregiving looks like for you, from the trenches.

Join #CaregiverConnections and find community with other #caregivers! #caregiver #community #mentalhealth #cancer #TBI Click To Tweet

This Week’s Spotlight

This week’s featured story comes from Dana Butler, who’s beautiful, honest post about the toll caring for their two special needs kids caught my eye last week. Click on over to Dana’s space and find out what it’s like to parent special-needs children. Her story will amaze you and move you as you see God working in her life.
Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for CAREGIVER Stories.  Share a link to your story of what it’s like to care for someone else (or have someone else care for you). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link.

For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest.

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

The whole point of the link up is to make connections and form community with other caregivers, so don’t forget to visit the person who linked up before you as well as the person who linked up after you.

If you read something that moves you, share! Tweet, pin, share on Facebook, whatever it takes to draw others into to our caregiver stories. All too often, caregivers suffer in silence because they don’t think anyone cares to hear their voice. We care! If you’d like to join the Caregiver Connections Pinterest Board (so you can pin your caregiver-related posts), just drop me an email at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com.

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The End of an Era and Making New Connections

endingAn Ending…

For over four years Blessed (but Stressed) has hosted the Inspire Me Monday linkup—sometimes other bloggers have acted as co-hosts, sometimes not. We’ve loved making connections with all of you! For the past two years, writers and readers have found community over at www.anitaojeda.com, as well.

I started the other blog in 2016 in order to find an outlet for my creative writing (Carol has a blog in the works, too). We’ve decided that we want to dedicate this space to caregiving and caregivers. Therefore, it makes more sense to stop hosting Inspire Me Monday here, and host it exclusively over at www.anitaojeda.com (and eventually on Carol’s blog, as well).

Thank you to all of you who have faithfully linked up over the years. If you’ve never checked out my other space, that’s where you’ll find the Inspire Me Monday linkup starting on February 4. This will be the last week that we host Inspire Me Monday here at Blessed (but Stressed).

…and a New Beginning With New Connections

connections

We’re excited to announce that we’ll start hosting a new link up, exclusively for posts by and for caregivers called ‘Caregiver Connections.’

The feelings of isolation that accompany the caregiving journey can overwhelm us at times. We’d like to provide a place for caregivers to find and read others’ stories. Or, if you’ve discovered a great resource or way to do something that other caregivers might benefit from, we want Caregiver Connections to be the go-to place for finding that information.

In order to make it easier for those visiting to find the kinds of posts they’re looking for, we’ll have a theme for each week.

First Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Stories

Share your personal stories of how caregiving has changed you or helped you to grow.

Second Wednesday of the month: Resources for Caregivers

Share your tips and hacks for making life easier as a caregiver. This can be healthy Instant Pot recipies, organizational hacks, or advice on handling insurance companies or other family members.

Third Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Self-Care

Share your tips and hacks for taking care of yourself as a caregiver. It’s not easy, and we need all of the help we can get!

Fourth Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Encouragement

You’ve been there, you’ve done that! One of the worst parts of caregiving is thinking that you’re alone. How can you encourage fellow caregivers?

Weekly Featured Blogs

Each week we’ll feature a post by a fellow caregiver. Sign up here to receive notifications of the link up each week. By sharing our stories and our experiences, we can make the lives of other caregivers just a little easier.

Sign up to get weekly reminders!

Look for an email each Wednesday to remind you to link up your caregiver-related blog posts.

Each week we'll have a theme as well as feature one blog post from the previous week that best embodies the previous week's theme.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

So, please join us next Wednesday, February 7, for the first ever Caregiver Connection link up!


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Caregiver Loneliness Can Delay YOUR Recovery

Five Tips for Avoiding Isolation

loneliness

Take a Peek at Caregiver Loneliness

ICU minutes stretch like bubblegum—at some point, I know they’ll burst and slap more messiness into my life. I wait, lonely in the busiest place on the planet, for the nurses to allow me back into Pedro’s room. The tubes cascade out of his mouth, bringing life and hope that I won’t have to face the future alone.

***

Hospital minutes twang with anxiety—Pedro’s not in ICU any more, but nurses rush in on quiet feet each time I press the call button. Days have passed since he knew that I sit next to him, counting each breath and movement—hoping that this crisis will pass. The beeps of his vitals accompany my prayers. The loneliness presses in—squeezing hope into the corners.

 ***

I am on a highway, looking towards a bright future, yet time whizzes past me in a blur. I tend to Pedro’s needs during my lunch break, than hurry back to work. The four of us (Pedro, Laura, Sarah and I) relish his recovery, and long for time to regain its measured pace. Normalcy dances within reach, yet I feel lonelier than when minutes stretched like bubblegum.

The bills, the burdens, the new normal, all build an invisible wall between me and everyone else. No one understands the sheer panic a sneeze or a sniffle produces in my mind. No one understands the confusion of no longer living in panic mode.

I blindly hang on to the one constant from my journey. I know I have never been alone. Never been forsaken. But MY road to recovery is a lonely one. #caregiver Click To Tweet

Lessons Learned in Retrospect

Fifteen years have passed since Pedro’s stem-cell transplant saved his life. For him, recovery lasted about a year. For me? A lot longer. Cancer and other catastropic illnesses can act as blinders for the caregiver. We hyper-focus on the tasks at hand: taking care of our loved one, finding answers, and willing them to live. We forget that the world continues while we fight an isolated battle.

In retrospect, I would have done things a bit differently.

1). I would have found a support group for cancer caregivers.

I don’t know if they didn’t exist at the time of Pedro’s illness, or if I just didn’t see signs offering help. A few years after his recovery, I went to the same hospital and noticed posters all over the place for caregiver support groups. It would have been helpful to know that I wasn’t the only one having all the feelings that accompany caregiving.loneliness

2). I would have taken more interest in my friends.

Pedro’s illness took place before the advent Facebook and Instagram, so keeping in touch with friends meant phoning or writing letters. Nowadays, constant communication takes very little time and effort. You can take an interest in other people’s lives while you wait.

3) Make an effort to keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis about non-caregiver related things.

This seems counterintuitive, because your world seems consumed by caregiving matters. But if you come out of the bubble, you’ll find connection with others that will help you when the crisis has ended and you return to normal life.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer for yourself.

I had no problems asking for prayer for Pedro and his specific needs. I had no idea that I could ask for prayer for myself. You can ask to join our Blessed (but Stressed) group of caregivers on Facebook. We pray for each other every Wednesday.

5) Acknowledge that YOU need time to recover, too.

Hopefully, if you take care of yourself during your journey (I didn’t), you’ll find that recovery takes less time. By staying connected with friends and family about non-caregiver related things, you won’t feel so isolated when your caregiving duties have ended. You’ll find it easier to resume activities that feel ‘normal’ to you, thus decreasing your sense of isolation and loneliness.

Know a Caregiver?

Do you know a caregiver?  Have you wondered if he or she might might suffer from caregiver loneliness?  What can YOU do to help? Don’t feel rejected if your caregiver friend seems distant and unresponsive. Keep reaching out! Caregivers suffer from loneliness but often don’t know how to express their feelings. They need YOU!


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Why You Should Forget About New Year’s Resolutions

Brainstorm Solutions, Instead

ResolutionKiss Resolutions Goodbye!

For years I made New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, start an exercise program, have better health, give up chocolate, and myriad other impossible proclamations.  While my husband recovered from his stem-cell transplant, I spent all of my spare time in bed. I felt grumpy and depressed and weighed fifty pounds more than I should. All of my resolutions clustered around me, tying me to my perpetual inaction.

And then I learned a secret.  ‘Resolution’ simply means to decide on a course of action—there’s nothing to ensure that I stay on course.  Lofty plans sound great on December 31, but without action they fall by the wayside quicker than couch potatoes running a 5K.

‘Solution,’ on the other hand, means ‘the act of solving a problem’ or ‘the state of being solved.’  Action equals motion.  This year, decide on solutions to problems and ditch the resolutions. Start with a list of things you’d like to accomplish, and then brainstorm ways to make those things happen. Don’t focus on your goal, though. You might end up feeling overwhelmed.

Focus on the little changes that you can make each day that add up to big changes over a long period of time. Those daily choices add up. Give yourself grace during your journey to forming new habits.

Resolutions

 

Changes Don’t Happen Overnight

Since saying ‘Adios!’ to New Year’s Resolutions, and acting to solve problems I saw in my life, I’ve lost those fifty extra pounds, lowered my cholesterol and learned that chocolate isn’t the enemy. I have more solutions to work out in my life, but I’m not the grumpy, frumpy middle-aged lump I used to be.

You can find out more about learning to really nurture yourself over at my other blog. On my journey, I’ve discovered lots of solutions to adding extra movement into my life and finding healthier ways to deal with stress.

Whether you’re a busy mom or a stressed-out caregiver, remember to give yourself grace for your journey. Change takes time (more than the month of January) in order to remain permanent. If you’d like to find a grace-filled support group, check out Faithful Finish Lines and their two-week FREE Grace Camp (affiliate link).

True change takes time! Give yourself grace, and don't try to accomplish everything in the just one month! #newyearsresolutions #solutions Click To Tweet

You can also download the printable graphic right here:





 

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We All Learn in Different Ways

(And We'd Like to Help You Out!)

differentDifferent Ways to Learn

The professor of educational psychology class at a university intoned, “We only learn by practicing—by actually doing something.” I shook my head in disbelief.

differentI raised my hand (I can’t keep my opinions to myself, sometimes). “So, you’re telling me that if I drove down the road, and see the vehicle in front of me bottom out in a pothole, I don’t have a different choice? I will have to go through the same pothole in order to learn that going through potholes could damage my car?”

“Hrrrum,” the professor replied. “What would you do in this situation?”

“Something different!” I exclaimed. “As a rational, thinking, relatively observant human being, I would swerve to avoid the pothole.”

“Um, yes,” he replied. “Good choice for your car. But we’re talking about the psychology of learning.”

“Agreed. But if I observe someone else making a mistake, and make a different choice with a better result, did learning take place?” Obviously, the professor (a young man in graduate school), had no siblings. Every second or third child understands the benefit of learning from the oldest sibling’s mistakes!

Our Gift to You

Carol Bovee and I have had some crazy experiences during our different cancer caregiving journeys. We’ve gone through some potholes along the way that damaged us because we didn’t take time to care for ourselves.

We’ve prepared a free book for you to help you negotiate your own caregiver journey (or tell a caregiver friend about the book!). Learn from our mistakes, without having to make them. We want you to experience a different journey—one where you come out the other end with fewer bumps and dings.

You can find the link to the free book up there in the right-hand corner. You’ll receive a free PDF of Cancer Caregiving 101: How to Survive and Thrive on Your Caregiver Journey. You’ll also receive a short series of emails that let you know about other aspects of our caregiving community.

Even if you don’t care for someone with cancer, you might find the stories inspirational and helpful in your own caregiving journey. Remember, if you know a caregiver, please pass this information along. We’d love to help others learn from our mistakes!

Get your FREE copy of Cancer Caregiving 101: How to Survive and Thrive During Your #Caregiving Journey. #selfhelp #cancer Click To Tweet

Get the FREE book!





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A Near Truth is Really a Lie

Give the Gift of Honesty (and a Helping Hand)

nearGoing to Church, but Avoiding the Members

The exhaust from our 4Runner billowed like clouds in the sub-zero temperatures. Snow squeaked under my feet as I went outside to check the temperature in the vehicle. I felt chagrinned that we would drive less than a block before parking. Church was so near, but Pedro couldn’t risk a fall on the ice, nor prolonged contact with the cold. He wanted to go to church, but didn’t want to see church members.

near

Pedro and the girls in front of the tree that transplant Christmas.

“Don’t want to see anyone,” he had told me. “Tired of everyone telling me how good I look. I don’t.”

And he didn’t. When people he knew saw him, I could see the quickly veiled shock and the scarcely masked struggle for a response. They usually blurted out, “You look great!” A near lie, if by that they meant he looked good. A near truth if they meant he looked like an extra for a movie about the Holocaust.

After assuring myself that Pedro wouldn’t freeze, I went back inside to help him bundle up for the short drive. I could give him the gift of church without people.

“Drive up the sidewalk,” Pedro instructed.

I blanched. Pedro must have noticed, because he assured me, “They drive a pickup on it all the time to clear the snow. It won’t hurt anything.”

“Ok,” I breathed, before backing out of the drive way and heading to the sidewalk. I needed to let go of my compulsive rule-following and concern over what others thought of me. I pulled up near the front steps and helped Pedro inside before dashing outside to get the car off the sidewalk.

When I ran inside, Pedro had made it across the lobby and up one of the steps leading to the mother’s room.

Nothing but the Truth

He looked so frail—more like a 90-year-old than a 34-year-old. After battling cancer for eight months, he looked like he’d walked off the set of Schindler’s List—emaciated, expressionless, and practically immobile.

Many church friends hadn’t seen him since the summer, when he looked near-healthy; just a young man dealing with a bout of cancer. The battle had turned ugly in late July, and he had experienced several near-death experiences in the interim. No wonder he wanted to avoid them.

We labored up the stairs together, and sank into a comfortable couch in the darkened room. The annual Christmas program came through the speakers, filled with songs and readings of hope. After the program, I went back down to the 4Runner to get it warming, and then went back inside to visit with a few people and wait for the crowds to clear.

The lobby emptied out, so I went upstairs to help Pedro. As we neared the bottom of the stairs, a voice called out, “Pedro! It’s good to see you!”

Pedro and I both looked up and saw one of our friends rushing across the lobby to greet us. As he neared, I saw the shock and horror. I braced myself for the usual near lie. I had worked so hard to give Pedro the gift of a morning at church without having to hear the hated sentence.

Instead, our friend blurted out, “Man, you look awful!” He clapped his hand over his mouth and froze, stunned by what he had said.

Pedro burst out laughing—but considering his weakened vocal chords and his frozen face, our friend couldn’t read Pedro’s reaction.

When Pedro finally caught his breath, he held out his hand, “Thanks! I needed to hear that today. The truth.”

How to Avoid Near Lies

Give the gift of truth this Christmas. If someone looks haggard and worn out, don’t lie and say they look great. Go deeper and ask them how they are doing. Invite them out for a cup of coffee. If they say they can’t get out because they can’t get away, offer to bring the coffee to them. Caregivers don’t have a lot of spare time, but they always appreciate help!

Those who struggle with illness, whether physical or mental, don’t feel better when we, the healthy, tell them near truths (lies). They would prefer the truth. Or, if you fear offending, an honest offer of help.

To say that someone looks great when they obviously don’t, diminishes their struggle. #mentalhealth #Christmas #caregivers Click To Tweet

In this busiest of seasons, make a vow to spend less time on decorations and fleeting gifts of things, and more time looking for friends in need. To this day, Pedro has fond memories of our friend’s blurted truth—the perfect gift in a season of darkness.

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Asbestos: The Deadly Threat to DIYers

What You Don't Know CAN Kill You

asbestos

Today Rachel Lynch from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance will share with us about a deadly fiber that most people don’t know enough about.

What DIYers don’t know about asbestos just might kill them. Tiny particles of asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material used in construction in the 1970s, can enter a person’s lungs and cause Mesothelioma. This rare form of cancer only comes from contact with asbestos.

Shockingly, although we’ve known for years that asbestos causes cancer, other countries import this toxin into our country on a regular basis.

What is Asbestos?

At first, no one knew about the side effects of asbestos. Its cheap and strong qualities seemed to provide the perfect tool for myriad construction applications. After all, it has the ability to resist heat, fire and electricity.

The material can be found in wallpaper, cement, insulation, floor/ceiling tiles, pipes, furnaces, and broilers among other building materials. In addition, the toxin was used frequently in the military and ship building. Unfortunately, when inhaled, it can cause cancer.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There are four different types of mesothelioma—pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular. Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lungs and is the most common form of the disease. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 70 to 80 percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases.

asbestosEach type of the disease presents itself with varying symptoms. Due to the variation, it is extremely difficult for patients to get an accurate and timely diagnosis. Unfortunately, all too often patients receive an accurate mesothelioma diagnosis only after the cancer has progressed into the third or fourth stage. Most patients are first misdiagnosed with a more common respiratory illness such as the flu or pneumonia. To make matters worse, mesothelioma has a long latency period—it typically does not manifest until 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure occurs.

Most often those diagnosed with mesothelioma have only 12 to 21 months to live. Prognosis can improve with early diagnosis. As previously stated, though, most cases are not confirmed until the third or fourth stage when it is too late for treatment. At that point, palliative care is the only option.

How Does Asbestos Exposure Occur?

Three distinct waves of asbestos exposure have occurred in the United States. The first wave of exposure impacted those handling asbestos in their occupations—mainly men working in mining, military personnel, and tradesmen. The second wave of exposure impacted the workers’ families. Those who worked with asbestos brought home the asbestos fibers on their clothing—unknowingly exposing their families when particles fell all their clothing and family members inhaled them.

The third—and current wave—of asbestos exposure has a close connection to the DIY craze. Many homes and schools have asbestos in them. The material is relatively harmless when left alone. However, when Do-it-Yourselfers dig into a project, they often disturb the material and release asbestos dust into the air. Anyone nearby could inhale the fibers and end up with mesothelioma

If you have an older home, consult an asbestos professional to have your home inspected before beginning any remodeling projects.asbestos

International Use of Asbestos

While asbestos use in the United States has tapered off, there are parts of the world where the asbestos trade thrives.

Although the last asbestos mine in the United States shut down in 2002, manufacturers in the United States still wanted to use the cheap and resistant material. With the United States no longer mining and manufacturing our own asbestos and asbestos products, the nation’s imports provide a major driving force in the growth in the international asbestos trade.

Other countries have imported more than 8 million pounds of asbestos into the United States since 2006. The majority of that—more than 7.6 million pounds of asbestos—arrived at the ports of New Orleans and Houston. Other ports receiving shipments of asbestos and asbestos products include Newark, Long Beach and Los Angeles. From those ports the toxic material travels out to 29 different states by either truck or rail. So, while the ban on mining asbestos protects U.S. miners from occupational asbestos exposure, the toxin still makes its way to all corners of the country and continues to put Americans in great danger.

Why is Asbestos still legal?

After reading all this you might be wondering—If we know that asbestos contains a cancer-causing toxin why do we still use it? I can assure you it’s not for lack of trying.

Beginning in the 1970s, when researchers discovered that asbestos causes cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency began attempting to ban the carcinogenic material. Unfortunately, they didn’t find success.

Almost 40 years later, the Senate unanimously passed the Ban Asbestos in America Act. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives squashed the bill and it never made it to the President.

“It’s reprehensible that Congress has allowed the man-made asbestos crisis to continue,” says Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which represents asbestos victims. “Each year, up to 15,000 Americans die from preventable mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases and imports still continue.“

What Now?

Until researchers discover a cure for Mesothelioma, prevention and raising awareness provide the best recourses for early treatment. If you or a loved one believe they have experienced asbestos exposure, visit a medical professional.

By raising awareness of Mesothelioma, people may realize they have been exposed to it and seek help before symptoms arise. A simple mention that you may have been exposed to asbestos could enable early detection, significantly increasing your chances of survival.

asbestosRachel Lynch is the Press and Media Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, a leading authority in providing information about asbestos exposure and its link to mesothelioma.

 

 

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A Caregiver You Know Might Need This Book

Dr. Bengtson Releases a Hope Prevails Bible Study Guide

BengtsonNot Knowing That I Stood in Need

When my husband miraculously recovered from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with Central Nervous System involvement I knew I should feel grateful and blessed. I did, mostly. But a heavy blanket of depression crept over me and sucked the color out of my days. I felt as if an angry monster lurked inside, ready to lash out at any moment. I had no idea that I needed something.

It took me awhile to acknowledge that perhaps I suffered from depression (after all, shouldn’t I feel blessed? Which just made me feel guiltier and more depressed). At the time, I found a good resource that helped me understand my feelings and start traveling out of the darkness.

I wish I would have had Hope Prevails Bible Study: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression by Dr. Michelle Bengston. Not only has Dr. Bengston traveled through depression, she has experienced seasons of caregiving as well. In fact, her husband received a cancer diagnosis on the day her first book, Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression launched last year. Dr. Bengston knows first-hand how caregiving can wear a person down and how maintaining a positive attitude of hope plays an important role in a caregiver’s life.

Dr. Bengtson graciously answered a few questions about the unique challenges that caregivers face.

What lies do caregivers need to be aware of both during and after a loved one’s illness?

Dr. Bengtson: Caregivers need to be aware of the lie that somehow our loved-one’s well-being depends on us. It doesn’t. God has them in His hand and He cares for them so much better than we ever could. We just need to cooperate with Him.

We also need to be aware of the lie that will scream that their healing isn’t permanent. Only God knows. So, we rejoice in the promise that God says that by His stripes we are healed. We don’t know if that will be this side of heaven or not, but we thank Him that God’s ways are best.

Caregivers also must be careful to guard against the lie that says that more we do, the better off they will be, or that no one can care for them as good as we can. We need to take time to rest ourselves so that we can care for them. And sometimes resting means delegating or allowing others to step in and help.

As a cancer caregiver yourself, what extra advice would you give a caregiver who struggles with hopelessness?

Dr. Bengtson: As a caregiver, we have to be careful to guard against hopelessness. We have to be careful not to let anxiety have a place in our mind. One of the best ways to do that is to repeat God’s promises out loud, such as Psalm 39:7 “”But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” and Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Go to Him. Share your burdens. He wants to help you carry them. He wants to be your strength. You do not have to go through this alone. Even when friends and family do not understand, he does!

Who Needs Dr. Bengtson’s Book

If you act as a caregiver to someone, I strongly recommend that you read this book as preventative maintenance! Traveling through a caregiving journey calls for extra fortifications—something this book provides. If you know a caregiver, consider giving the book to them as a gift. Often times caregivers look fine on the outside, but inside they feel lost and abandoned. The easy-to-use and understand Bible study takes the reader on a journey of hope. I found the play lists of hope-filled songs especially helpful. Dr. Bengtson has curated a wide variety of Christian music artists to help lift the listener’s spirits throughout the day.

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