Mesothelioma is widely known throughout the medical field as one of the most difficult cancers to treat. There are a number of factors which have prevented finding a reliable cure for the disease. Mesothelioma can remain dormant for as long as fifty years, allowing it to reach terminal stages without many indicators. At this point, many traditional cancer treatments are relatively ineffective, adding only a few months to the patient’s prognosis. Research is also difficult to conduct, as relatively few people are diagnosed with the disease, about 3,000 per year. Since mesothelioma is so rare, there are many cardiothoracic surgeons that have no experience with the disease whatsoever. Because of the factors indicated above, many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have a life expectancy ranging from 6-18 months. With such an unfavorable prognosis, many doctors recommend palliative care upon diagnosis.

Palliative care is a holistic approach to healing, which operates under the idea that the mental, and social symptoms of a disease need to be treated along with the physical symptoms. This approach to treatment is especially important for patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses or illnesses that have short life expectancies. Because mesothelioma is a terminal disease typically diagnosed in people 65 years of age or older, patients and their doctors may opt for alternative treatments that focus on the patient’s quality of life, whether they are undergoing chemo and surgery or not. Holistic approaches to healing can be effective in relieving stress, anxiety, depression, nausea and other symptoms that go hand-in-hand with any cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are hundreds of approaches that can aid in the overall well being of a patient, but for the purposes of this article, only the most common will be highlighted.

Acupuncture is a widely used complementary therapy for cancer patients, and alongside massage therapy one of the most accepted forms of alternative treatment for cancer patients. According to the Mayo clinic, acupuncture can be used as an alternative method to relieving symptoms associated with cancer treatment, including pain, nausea, and stress. Acupuncture also helps to activate the immune system, and decrease pain. There have been studies that suggest that acupuncture is more effective at alleviating symptoms for cancer patients than nurse-led supportive care, reducing symptom scores by 22%. Alternatively, massaging pressure points 2-3 finger widths below the crease on a patient’s wrist, or wearing acupressure wristbands can aide in abating nausea, making it a powerful tool for those going through chemotherapy.

Art Therapy
Art therapy is another widely used complementary therapy that emphasizes the importance of healing both the mind and the body. Creating and observing art gives a patient the opportunity to unearth and express their emotions about their disease, and helps aid in diminishing stress, fear, and anxiety. For terminal patients, art therapy can be a way to come to grips with and express concern over their disease. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, researchers observed 50 cancer patients over a four month period who each took an art therapy course. After completing art therapy, the researches noticed an observable and quantifiable decrease in tiredness, depression, anxiety, pain, breathlessness, and nausea in a majority of patients. This is especially useful for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma because of the alarmingly short life expectancy. Being able to come to grips with the likely outcome of your disease is a powerful tool.

Music Therapy
Throughout history and culture music has proven to be a widely used tactic in holistic healing, as it can help patients manage both their physical and emotional symptoms. According to, when combined with medication, music therapy can help ease nausea and vomiting and help reduce short-term pain. Since music affects brain waves, circulation, neurotransmitters, and stress hormones, music therapy can also help with depression and anxiety symptoms. Scientific evidence aside, any cancer diagnosis puts your life on hold, and diagnostic procedures such as chemo, or surgery can take any sense of normalcy out of your life, and music, whether listening or performing, can be a great way to relax and heal, and having a practice routine can add a sense of normalcy back into a patient’s life.

Alternative treatments are valuable in any cancer diagnosis, especially those that have terminal outcomes. When faced with a mesothelioma diagnosis, especially, many patients need an outlet to express their feelings about their diagnosis, and ways to healthily cope with the emotional fatigue as well as the physical side effects present when undergoing cancer treatment. Alternative medicine when combined with traditional cancer treatments and under the supervision of an oncologist is extremely beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally for any patient diagnosed.

Author's Bio: 

Brooke Oberst is a health and wellness fan. She works in the field, keeps it healthy at home, and strives to have a fit lifestyle. After facing a personal health crisis, Brooke began to travel, bake, go outdoors more, and adopted her dog, Sidewalk.