Aiyelabowo, Bisi | Surviving Mesothelioma

Aiyelabowo, Bisi

Before a mother gives birth, life is envisioned. But that vision only becomes a reality when the child is born. My mother gave birth in April 10 1986 to premature twins in Lagos, Nigeria. Before she gave birth she did what every mother does. She decorated the rooms, and envisioned her newborns lives. On the day of delivery, the doctors told her that her newborns were not going to survive because they were born too early. My mother did not accept the words of the doctors. She wanted her twins to live the reality that she once envisioned for them. Two days after delivery she took her babies home, stood by faith, educated herself in how to take care of them and proved the doctors wrong. Her vision became a reality. Her twins survived and are still surviving.

After hearing this story about the birth of my older siblings, I thought that I would never come across another being with so much faith and vision as to proof doctors wrong until I read about James Rhio O’ Conner. In October 2001, James Rhio O’ Conner was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Malignant Mesothelioma. Malignant Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos and occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, known as the mesothelium. This disease restricts the lungs’ ability to function properly, therefore, making it difficult to breathe (www.survivingmesothelioma.com). Symptoms do not appear until years after exposure but by then, it has reached an advanced stage and could possible lead to death. O’Conner was giving this information about his health. He was informed that he had less than a year to live. Like my siblings, his days on earth were numbered but he did not give up.

The news that O’Conner received from his physician was a news that many people would have accepted and mourn over, but O’Conner was one of the few people who did not accept and was determined to fight cancer. He was determined to fight this disease because he envisioned life. He wanted to live. O’Conner began to educate himself. He wanted to find a way to slow down the disease growing inside of him. His cure began in the libraries, conversing with researchers, doctors, other cancer patients like himself. O’Conner researched. He researched how to go about living a healthy life, he placed his time, knowledge, faith mind, and body into this one thing. Although cancer was living with him, it did not define him. His vision, determination and perseverance to live were stronger than the disease that consumed his body. He inspired, mentored, and educated many people. He inspired me to have a vision, a goal and to fight for it. His story taught me to educate myself and to never give up regardless of the struggles that life brings. I now understand that life can be as big as we make it, and like O’Conner who did not allow cancer to define him, we are what we envision ourselves.

If placed in O’Conner’s shoes I would first build a mentality that says, “Nothing is impossible.” I would commit myself to building a spirit like O’Conner; a spirit of faith and self-belief. When it comes to death, there is nothing to lose so I would battle cancer head on. Many people have fought with cancer and have won. Many people have contradicted the words of physicians and the results of X-Rays, Chemotherapy and other surgeries alike. I believe that I am what I envision myself. My mother envisioned live for her twins in 1986 and they lived; O’Conner envisioned life after being told he had a vital disease and he extended his months of life to seven years. I would envision life wholeheartedly. I would follow O’Connor’s footstep and educate myself as well as others. I would change my diet, exercise, talk to friends, teachers, doctors, researchers, and other cancer patients. I would ask them how they are going about their battles. Encouraging myself and uplifting my faith and vision I would look beyond chemo therapy and other traditional medicines that would have little to offer other than great side effects. I would read articles and studies. With the knowledge and resources that I have mounted up, I would help other patients. I would talk to doctors and give ideas about future research that could be conducted to help the future generation. If possible I would try to minimize people’s exposure to asbestos by educating them. But above all, I would live. I would live each day like the 20 years old that I am who believes that she has years and years left ahead of her. I envision, therefore I am.

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