Welcome to Words of Wisdom from Mesothelioma Survivor Kendra Ferreira – Part 2.

Previously, Kendra spoke with us briefly about the topics of prognosis and treatment.

Kendra Ferreira - mesothelioma survivor Many patients and their loved ones that speak with our patient advocates are concerned about treatment and the health effects that are associated with it. Sometimes they may even turn to statistics for answers.

Once again Kendra has helped us by sharing more insight about mesothelioma treatment and her personal experiences with her diagnosis.

Quality of Life

Before, during, and after treatment, the quality of life of a mesothelioma patient can play a vital role in improving their prognosis. A patient’s quality of life refers to the satisfaction and comfort that they experience.

Here is what Kendra had to say about her quality of life and how it changed for her after treatment.

Q: How was your quality of life after treatment? Did it change? If so, how?
A: At first I was really tired and weak for about a year after treatment finished. I couldn’t gain weight but my doctor said it was because my cells were rebuilding themselves. I could only eat very small portions because it was all my stomach could handle without feeling discomfort. Presently, I feel very good but I have lost some of my memory from the chemo and I still have discomfort digesting sometimes, I still eat smaller portions.

Statistics Aren’t the Answer

In the great words of Mark Twain, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

Kendra and many other mesothelioma warriors are beating the odds of their prognosis every single day. In many circumstances, statistics may also play a factor in a patient’s decision to pursue certain treatment options.

News flash – they shouldn’t.

Q: Many people that contact our office are fixated on statistics that they find. Since statistics aren’t “one size fits all”, what is your advice to patients that
take into consideration statistics when it comes to making a decision about their treatment?

Example: Some people may opt out of doing a surgery because statistics tell them it may or may not extend their prognosis for a couple months.

A: I met with four different oncologists about treatment options, three of the four offered no hope for mesothelioma. One oncologist gave me “the quality of life” speech which meant weighing out treatment options versus the quality of my life. When I met with the fourth oncology group, they were positive, offered hope, and I knew I was in good hands.

My advice is stay positive and to find the right oncologist who has a good protocol and offers treatment if the cancer should return. It is an overwhelming time in your life but you have to make the right choices. I took a chance, I knew the odds weren’t in my favor and I was so scared but I’ve always been a strong person and was determined to beat the statistics and live.

Treatment Side Effects

Many mesothelioma patients are curious about the side effects that are associated with their treatment plan. Since mesothelioma is treated so aggressively, not all treatment options are safe for every patient. It is also important to remember that everyone is different and that treatment side effects may vary in individuals.

In Kendra’s journey to improve her prognosis, she didn’t let any treatment side effects stop her. She also had the support of her husband and family every step of the way.

Q: Did any side effects from treatment affect the treatment decisions that you made? How did you outweigh them?

Example: Some people don’t want to do chemotherapy treatment because they don’t want to lose their hair.

A: I was scared about losing my hair but that didn’t stop me from chemotherapy, I bought a wig and cut my hair really short. I was exhausted after surgery and after chemo treatments, so I had to stay in bed quite a bit. I also lost my appetite and was often nauseous, so I drank Ensure to get nutrients.

My final treatments were four weeks of abdominal radiation that were so awful, I wanted to give up. I had a difficult time keeping any food down and I was losing weight rapidly. My husband coaxed me into finishing my radiation treatments and I am grateful that I did. Unfortunately, meso is an aggressive cancer and needs aggressive treatment. I liked to focus on the end of the treatment and plan an activity or something that I could look forward to.

Traveling for Treatment

Since mesothelioma is such a rare disease, there aren’t very many specialists that know how to treat it. In many circumstances, a patient may have to travel to receive proper treatment.

A patient shouldn’t let the fear of traveling prohibit them from seeking the correct treatment plan for them. For instance, Kendra had a roundtrip travel time of 8 hours for every one of her treatment visits.

Q: I noticed that you had to travel to meet your mesothelioma specialist. What advice would you give to a patient that has to travel for treatment?
A: I was extremely scared about having to travel to and from New York City (4 hours each way) for surgery and treatments but it ended up being less difficult than I expected. I was fortunate to be able to fly with Angel Flights and stay at Miracle House for cancer patients, and when I couldn’t get a flight I took the train. Miracle House is no longer available but while staying there I was able to meet other cancer patients and volunteers who helped make the journey a little easier.

My advice is to look for resources available to cancer patients, people and organizations are so willing to help. It was a scary journey but I met so many wonderful people through my travels to New York City. Let your family and friends help, my family helped take care of my children and my friends volunteered to accompany me to my treatments if my husband wasn’t able to.

Image of Nurse Karen.Treatment for mesothelioma can be expensive. As Kendra mentioned, there are resources that are available to patients and their loved ones that can help.

For more information about getting connected to these support options, please contact Karen Ritter at 888-385-2024 x102.

If you haven’t already, make sure that you check out, Words of Wisdom from Mesothelioma Survivor Kendra Ferreira – Part 1.

Have you enjoyed reading what Kendra has shared with us?
Please tell us about it in a comment below.

    Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.