Facing any illness can’t be truly appreciated until you have been given a diagnosis yourself. Of course, the most extreme cases can’t be explained outright and have any bystander truly understand without that persons first hand knowledge of the illness. I have never been given the diagnosis of having cancer but I do understand the effect it has on families first hand. I have recently been given a diagnosis for an illness (and therefore have a new appreciation for what it means to be faced with illness) and still don’t find I truly appreciate what Mr. James O’Conner had to go through. Cancer is one of those illnesses’s that still does not have an ending in sight, as far as a cure. Many people, including myself wonder why the illness exists in people that may not have been a “candidate” for it. Healthy people, for example, get this illness and some die from it. For example, the late Patrick Swayze was a healthy dancer and died from cancer this past month. It is an enigma to many and hopefully not for long.
If I was diagnosed today with cancer, I would do my best to fight the illness with every bit of knowledge and tenacity that I could muster. The steps I would take in fighting this disease would be a diligent combination of everything traditional medicine (chemotherapy and radiation) and non-traditional medicine (herbs, meditation, nutritional eating, and exercise) had to offer. I would make sure that I was in the hands of the best cancer doctors that I could find. I would take into consideration the rates of progress all treatments had to offer and what additional treatments I could use to help with any side effects that would be a factor. Mesothelioma is a cancer that needs to be researched to give the patient the best understanding of the disease. Time is of the essence when it comes to any cancer, but Mesothelioma is serious. New, alternative therapies can also be helpful (along with traditional treatments). I have studied herbology and have studied Iyengar yoga for many years. I know that those practices alone can help with illness and disease. If I was given the diagnosis of having cancer, this would undoubtedly be a part of my everyday regimen. I would definitively consider both Allopathic (western medicine) as well as Naturopathic treatments. Having been diagnosed with an illness that needs a very specific and expensive regimen of drug therapies, I know what it is like to be patient and to fight the depression that goes along with not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring. Learning and researching everything there is to know about disease and treatments can give oneself the best “leg to stand on” when it comes to working with illness. For me, I would want to know that I have done everything I can to make sure that I am informed. You would not go into battle without the best weapons to fight, would you? I feel that is the best line of defense when it comes to understanding illness.
Mentally, you really have to be prepared to fight this illness. I really believe in the power of the mind and how it can affect our physical state of being. Mr. O’Connor was mentally ready to take on the illness when he was diagnosed. He understood that he needed to be mentally strong for what was ahead. When it comes to the mind, one has to connect with their most powerful and positive voice to help with illness. Stress and chaos are not mental states that are beneficial to fighting an illness.( For me, laughter and happiness often give me calm and serenity that are needed to be mentally prepared for dealing with illness). When I am dealing with my own current illness I try to meditate and journal about how I am feeling day to day. Making sure I can get out all of the negatives or fears that may creep into my thinking, is important to me. Based on what I read about Mr. O’Connor, I believe he knew that being positive and grateful were a tool he used to help fight his cancer.
Massage and physical exercise are excellent ways to help deal with illness. Exercise and movement can simultaneously take care of ones mental wellness, as well as physical wellness. For me, it is amazing how after a long bike ride, that I can feel happier and have more energy than if I didn’t go for that bike ride. Movement and (massage) touch are important tools in healing. An automobile is similar in the sense that if you don’t drive it on a regular basis and change the oil, the automobile will seize up its engine and refuse to move. I am not saying that humans are anything like cars; however it is an awfully interesting analogy for movement being beneficial.
In contrast, the body also needs rest to heal itself as well. I know many athletes who swear they must continue to exercise on sore muscles and torn ligaments, when all they need is rest to feel better. The same is true for any illness. The body needs rest to heal the infection. Sleep is an essential way the body can reset itself and heal infection. Both the mind and the body need rest to work at their peak. Without rest the mind is foggy and strained. The body will respond (or not respond) to what the mind tells it to do. If the mind is not “firing” the correct messages to the body, the body will not fight illness.
In the fight against cancer, or any illness, the fight is usually done alone. This essay, for example is asking the reader, “What would you do to fight this disease?” Although, when you are given a diagnosis the initial fight will be alone, however, having the support of friends and family during that time is also an essential tool and gift one can have when dealing with illness. Although there are moments when study and research on new therapies can help the patient feel more empowered; there is still no substitute for the love one can receive from a family member or a friend when times are at there most critical. Having the support when physical pain is a factor or when mentally you are not strong; when depression is creeping in, support is necessary.
There are still so many ways to fight disease and I think that many of the corporations in the U.S. don’t want to tell the general public about those methods for fear of the bottom line. When you think about what you can do to help prevent the illness, one would think that the most powerful country in the world would have a more informed population. As an American, I believe that our general populations eating habits are poor and with the proper nutrition and a clearer understanding on what foods and vitamins to consume, I believe we have a better chance of beating most diseases. When conducting research for any illness, you can certainly start with understanding what the illness is; in this case it is cancer. Studies have shown that people exposed to certain toxins (like that in Mr. O’Connor’s case) and stress levels are most likely to be a candidate for cancers. Of course, there are still those candidates that get cancer anyway. The human body is a miraculous machine and if we don’t give it the best chance of preventing and fighting disease, cancer will be among the many illness we will continue to fight.
Today, we have the power of the internet to help with research. There are many medical web sites that can offer help with both information on any specific illness and treatment for the illness. Most pharmaceutical web sites can also offer the patient an opportunity to apply for assistance programs to help pay for the costly treatment options. Many states are incorporating centers within hospitals that specialize in cancer treatment, making the opportunity for treatment possible. Mesothelioma is a cancer that takes many years to develop after the patient is exposed to asbestos for just a short period. The following website describes the disease in detail. If you know of anyone that may have been exposed to asbestos in a work environment, encourage them to seek a specialist that works with Mesothelioma. Early detection is the best way to beat any cancer.
By: Bach, Ashley E.