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July 30th marks the International Day of Friendship, a day when people around the world celebrate their friendships as a vital part of their life.
It’s been said that those with strong friendships reap benefits much larger than what we might expect. Not just more likes on a Facebook page or people calling during a tough time, but even stronger immunities, according to the American Psychological Association, thanks to the stress-busting benefit of having a sense of community and belonging.
This could not be more true for those suffering from mesothelioma, one of the most isolating diseases there is due to an unfortunate set of truths: high mortality rate, no cure, constantly misunderstood — and a hard to pronounce name, too.
But what do you do if you do not have the friendships in your life that you would like, the kind of friendships that could save your life? More to the point: What do you do if you or someone you love is already suffering from mesothelioma cancer and you don’t have the friendships in place that you need to help you through this very difficult time? You have to build a support group.
A mesothelioma support group can be built with the friends you already have, or with new friends that you can make through your struggle and commitment to fighting against mesothelioma and asbestos exposure.
If you already have a strong network of friends — friendships that you’ve accumulated over the years from many different points in your life, or friendships from work, your church or neighborhood or children’s play groups — but you’re worried they are not, say, fulfilling the supportive role that your complete mesothelioma treatment requires, the key is to help them learn how to be more supportive of you.
More often than not, your friends really do want to help you through this hard time. But mention “cancer” to just about anyone, and the usual response is to back away slowly. We simply aren’t prepared, as a society, to help and step in during difficult times!
Your friends need some guidance from you to find out how they can support you and be there for you, not as a friend who checks in a few times a month and is there for you when your dinner plans fail, but a friend who is there for you through one of the toughest times in your life. There’s a saying that “if you build it, they will come,” and we think this applies to helping your current network of friends become the support group you need. If you take some time to imagine what you would benefit from most from your friends, and if you work to verbalize your needs, your friends will come and surround you with the ultimate support that you’ve been needing!
If you are worried that your current friends are unable to join together to become the support group you need, the best thing to do is to try to find people who have been there, people who have seen what cancer can do to a person, and family or group, and people that know just what is needed to help support a person through their asbestos-related disease.
There are plenty of cancer support groups throughout the country, and some of them are focused on mesothelioma. Ask your doctor or hospital if they can recommend a local support group, or visit our Facebook page and chime in; you never know if someone in your area may be looking for a mesothelioma support team just like you!
Happy International Day of Friendship. And, remember, you can always share this post with your friends!