One of the terms used commonly in many areas these days is “quality of life.” What does that mean? What is the definition? According to the World Health Organization: “Quality of Life” is “- an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. It is a broad ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person’s physical health, psychological state, level of independence, social relationships, personal beliefs and their relationship to salient features of their environment.”
When diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other serious illness, a major concern is how will the disease and treatment impact the person’s quality of life. As progress has been made in healthcare choices that were never before options are being offered to patients. Are these choices what the person wants?
Quality of life is affected by several factors when dealing with mesothelioma. The factors would include stage of the disease and treatment side effects. The average life expectancy for patients with mesothelioma range from 12 to 21 months depending on when the patient was diagnosed, type of mesothelioma, treatment option they might decide on. The scenarios are many and as individual as the patient, family and mesothelioma tumor. Many patients after receiving treatment go on to lead very active lives including travel, working and enjoying children and grandchildren. Some patients elect not to receive treatment based on their wishes and circumstances.
There are sites on the internet that imply that surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can improve your quality of life. This can be true for some people but for others is not. Often the symptoms you experience help you make the decision to opt for treatment. Often shortness of breath, pain or fatigue are catalysts for determining what treatment options are best for you.
There are many patients who opt for quality of life versus pursing all possible options for example author Randy Pausch in his book, “The Last Lecture”, describes how he had a terminal illness and was given months to live. He accepted his diagnosis and he chose how he would live his final days. His advice is to “break down the brick wall and fight for what you want” During his journey he never gave up on hope and love.
In a study presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology by Dr. Benjamin Movsas, chairman of the Radiation Oncology Department at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit he presented data that showed how important quality of life indicator is for predicting survival of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. “We conducted two different statistical analysis including all the usual prognostic factors and either way, quality of life remained the strongest predictor of overall survival. What’s more, if a patient’s quality of life increased over time, we saw a corresponding increase in survival.”
How is your quality of life? Are you living the best possible life that you can? Are you happy? These questions and answers play an important role in the treatment of your disease.