I sit outside the room, listening to the joyful chirping of the budgies, but there is little joy within the walls of the building I am in. Although I am a young ten year old, I recognize that no amount of chirping birds and bright paint will cover up the stench of death and despair within the walls of a hospice. I am there for my grandfather, who due to a rare neurodegenerative disease, has been given less than six months to live. I watch him wither away from a once strong and proud man, and I soon realize that I do not want to go out like that, succumbing to the despair of a dark prognosis with no hope. But is it possible, even with little hope, to actually overcome something like this?
Rhio’s story has become somewhat of an inspiration to me. Although my grandfather’s disease and Rhio’s were very different, the prognosis for them was the same; months to live and no hope for survival. However, Rhio did not succumb to his prognosis, but rose above it and willed himself to fight his disease, mesothelioma. Due to his exposure to asbestos as a child, Rhio developed mesothelioma. Because the tumor was located near his spine, and the chemo would have decreased his quality of life, the doctor that gave Rhio the prognosis gave him little treatment options. However, Rhio decided he would fight his disease, nicknamed Mr. Meso, and researched and educated himself on the numerous treatment options that were out there. Rhio was able to put together his own treatment plan, formulating a regimen of over 100 supplements a day, combined with mind-body medicine and his own willpower to live. Rhio was able to outlive his prognosis by over six years, proving to me that there is always hope, its just sometimes you have to work for it.
If I were to be diagnosed and given a dire cancer prognosis, the first thing I would probably do is let all my close friends and family know that I was given this prognosis, but I still plan to fight the disease. In this way, I would have a strong support system that could help me through everything, from research to new treatments and putting together a regimen. Then, I would start my research. Beginning with the most readily available resource, I would use the internet to learn more about the type of cancer I had been diagnosed with and some of the more general treatment options. After getting an idea of some of the options available, I would start meeting with specialists within the area to see if they knew of any more treatment options I could try. I would also do research in the library, looking up journal articles about new research and see if there are any books on treatment options. I would also look for books by people that have also been diagnosed with the same type of cancer, such as Rhio if I was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I could then use some of the research that Rhio had already done and expand on what I learned through my own research.
After doing all this research into the treatment options, I would want to find a doctor who, unlike the doctor the diagnosed me, would believe in my ability to fight the disease and would personally work with me to come up with a regimen that could aid in my recovery. By having a medical professional aid me personally, I would have a better time putting together a recovery program, and could potentially avoid mishaps, such as taking two different supplements that would have counteractive affects.
I would not limit my treatment options to conventional medicine. Many studies in mind-body medicine have shown that there is a correlation between the health of an individual who practices it and an individual who does not. My mom always used to say that if you believe you are not sick, then you are not sick. To me, the mind-body approach to medicine seems to approach the same kind of idea. By using such approaches as meditation, guided imagery, and group support, my mind would be taken off the stress of worrying about my future, and my body would be less stressed and would have the potential to begin to heal itself. Even if there is no correlation between mind-body medicine and the treatment of cancer, it does not really matter. Mind-body medicine would still give me an added support system and a more peaceful existence as I search a refine a supplement regimen.
My grandfather was a great man, and I don’t blame him for not fighting his prognosis, but I know that I cannot accept that there is no hope. I truly believe that there is always hope, one just has to look for it. Rhio has become part of a beacon of hope that, if in the unfortunate circumstances I have to face similar challenges, I can follow. Some may say that facing one’s death is the bravest thing one can do. Rhio faced death, looked it directly in the eye, and walked the other way. Nothing could be braver.