If you worked in a Pennsylvania coalmine, factory or shipyard, you might have been exposed to asbestos at some point in your career. Living in a home or going to a school that was built in the 1970s or earlier also poses a risk for asbestos exposure. Contracting an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma is not typically immediately apparent.
This is because it usually takes years for symptoms to develop. Once a doctor diagnoses your illness, it is likely to pass through certain stages. The more the disease progresses, the more specialized care and assistance you are bound to need. This is why it's good to know ahead of time what type of medical, financial, health care and legal resources are available.
In the beginning
When you first start experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, the cancerous tumor in your body may be confined to one area. During this stage, you might feel chest discomfort or have a lingering cough. You might also feel fatigued or have a loss of appetite.
Mesothelioma may spread to lymph nodes
If your doctor diagnosed you at stage two of your illness, it means the tumor has spread to your lymph nodes. This is often discovered after a biopsy, where fluid or tissue from a lymph node is extracted and tested in a laboratory.
Stage three means the disease is greatly progressed
At this time, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. A stage three diagnosis means the illness is nearing its final stage. You might be heavily relying on your loved ones or special care providers to assist you with daily living skills by this point. Treatment is palliative, meaning designed to help alleviate discomfort as much as possible.
The final stage
Mesothelioma tumors may eventually spread throughout your lymphatic system and invade your body's organs. By the time the disease reaches this stage, it may be too late for surgical treatment.
Quality of life
In its earlier stages, doctors sometimes treat mesothelioma with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Receiving a terminal illness diagnosis is a devastating blow that affects not only you, the patient, but also those who love you. For most asbestos-illness patients, the priority becomes achieving as high quality a life as possible in the time that is left.
If employer negligence was a causal factor to your illness, you may want to speak with other mesothelioma patients or those who well-versed in asbestos litigation. Such discussions can provide much needed guidance and support.