I have now been privileged to share a few Zoom coffee mornings with HASAG and what has struck me is the stoicism and resilience of the asbestos sufferers that I met. I wondered, however, whether some of you might benefit from understanding a bit more about what we mean by counselling and what we as counsellors have to offer those who have a diagnosis of Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, and/or their families.

The diagnosis of Mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases, and the prospect of chemotherapy or surgery must for many be devastating. Signifying a major change in your lives with loss of health, loss of job, loss of autonomy and independence, and loss of a future that you had planned. Feelings of confusion, anger, uncertainty, fear, and low mood can make it difficult to cope with daily living.

Some of you may have partners you feel that you can share these feelings with, but others may try to struggle with these feelings alone. Whatever your situation, this turmoil of thoughts can interrupt sleep, reduce motivation, and may reduce your ability to enjoy life. Counselling should not be viewed as a sign of weakness. Talking therapy does not have to be a last resort for those who are desperate. It is an opportunity for any of you to share with a trained person, who is not family, your inner worries, fears and concerns for the future.

Counselling is talking therapy but not just like talking to your best friend. As Counsellors we will listen carefully to what you have to say, not judge you, or offer opinions, or tell you what to do, but try and get you to look at things in a different way, think differently and help relieve your distress. We can’t jus fix things for you, as we don’t have a magic wand, but often we can allow you to have more control over your thoughts, feelings and actions and metaphorically walk beside you for a while so that together we can find a way out of your ‘fog of distress’ and find a new way forward.

I liken it to your brain being a tumble drier; a turmoil of tangled washing, shake it, fold it and place it neatly in the pile. The thoughts are still there but they are untangled and more ordered and you can integrate them into your lives and restore hope.