Barton, Alyssa – Surviving Mesothelioma

Barton, Alyssa

Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires – disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way. ~ Bernie S. Siegel

The unhealed wounds, the bloody doctor’s masks, the empty prescription bottles, the balding bodies, long nights spent vomiting, the chemicals injected into your body…these describe the stages of a cancer stricken patient. A beautiful life taken away by a fatal disease that not only attacks the body, but the mind and emotions of the one infected. Numerous research projects are being done to help determine effective treatments and cures for cancer.

My grandfather died a horrible death, all alone early in the morning on the way to the bathroom. He had Leukemia and was only forty – three years old. He passed away when I was three months old. His dying wish was to meet his first grandchild. The only picture I have of him is one of him sitting on the couch with a doctor’s mask on his face and me in his arms. I myself thought that I had cancer once. My heart sank and I immediately went into a state of denial. I am terrified of becoming sick, and with a family full of smokers and relatives that have died from the disease it is hard to think that I never will. One day I noticed something wrong with my body; I was in the bathroom and noticed a little bit of blood on the toilet paper, this blood was coming from my rectum. The first thought that came to my mind was Leukemia, plain and simple. My mind raced a hundred miles an hour. Upon this discovery I ran to the computer to do research and I noticed that what I had discovered is in fact a symptom of Leukemia, cancer of the blood, the cancer that took my grandfather. I sat there for hours crying and playing through possible scenarios in my head. Do I have other symptoms? How would I tell my friends and family? How would I treat this disease? Would I still go to college in the following months? Can my family afford my funeral? These were questions that were running through a teenager’s mind…a teenager, a person that only graced this Earth for about seventeen years. Nowadays those getting infected with cancer are younger and younger. Even the thought of this memory brings tears to my eyes. I could never imagine how a person that has the disease feels every day of their lives. I sympathize so immensely for those affected.

With the smokers that I encounter daily and the pollution that plagues the environment, I wonder nearly every day what I would do if I were diagnosed with cancer. It terrifies me; I can only imagine that it is one of the scariest things that anyone can hear from their doctor.

I try to look at the disease from a holistic perspective and cure it as a whole instead of each individual problem. Many doctors give cancer patients many different types of drugs to dull the pain, bring up the number of t cells, or to alleviate other symptoms. I do not know if I would do treatments, I heard stories about what my grandfather went through and that ordeal is one that I would not like to encounter. The most extreme treatment that I would possibly try is surgery but death is inevitable. If I am going to die from a devastating disease I would prefer to do it without the extra chemicals poisoning my body. I would simply refuse radiation, and chemotherapy. These methods can be effective in helping with cancer treatment but can also be incredibly detrimental to the patient. Not only can these methods cause the patient’s immune system to weaken allowing them to become more susceptible to other infections and diseases but it can also cause the cancer cells to mutate which makes it more difficult to get rid of them.

Before an attempt at surgery I would try some natural remedies. I would be sure to do research and only use those remedies that have been proven to be effective in cancer treatment and that will not interfere with other medications or cause the cancer to grow.

A healthier diet goes along the lines of the holistic view; it affects many aspects of a person’s health. It could also be beneficial in helping with cancer treatment because cancer cells feed on sugars, salts, and acids in the body. By reducing my intake of unhealthy foods it makes it more difficult for the cells to feed and multiply, while allowing healthy cells to be manufactured, and grow. I would take my current vegetarian diet and modify it so that I would consume fewer sugars, less carbohydrates, and more raw fruits and vegetables. Along with the change in diet I would increase the amount of exercise in my daily routine. Cancer cells thrive in oxygenated environments and exercising will help release oxygen build ups in the body through respiration. Exercising will also release toxins in the body through perspiration. All these changes in a patient’s lifestyle benefit many aspects of their health.

The two things that I know for a fact that I would do as treatments are to immerse myself in nature and spend valuable time with family. Going to a college on the coast in Maine has only made my love for the ocean and the creatures around me grow and help me realize Mother Nature’s healing powers. Mother Nature controls everything on this Earth, and if we allow her to help then she is more than willing to. I would spend every waking minute with my family and do everything that I have ever dreamed of. The best treatment that I can offer myself is to experience those things that bring me joy with those that I love. If I were to lose my battle to cancer then I would rather do it living my life and accomplishing things that I always imagined than waiting to die in a hospital bed. I would die happy and surrounded by those that have always loved me unconditionally. I like to believe that love has some form of healing power. A family’s bond cannot be broken and can make so many things in this world better.

These are just a few things that I would consider doing if I was diagnosed with a type of cancer, but to be honest I do not think things would go as planned; who is to say that if this really became my life that I would not go to all costs to survive? No one really knows, a life cannot be planned out no matter what happens. I can never pretend that I know what this is like to walk in someone else’s shoes or try to figure out their reasoning for the treatments they chose or how they choose to live the remainder of their life. No matter what, it is a catch – 22 with cancer, you spend your time sick and if you’re lucky enough to survive then you live the remainder of your time either recovering from the treatments or living with the fear of the cancer cells multiplying once again.

Cancer affects not only a victim’s body; it takes a toll on their spirit, emotions, thoughts, and outlook on life. It is one of the most devastating diseases that change too many lives to count. It is time for today’s society to focus on cleaning up the world around us so that this disease will not win the last battle. Throwing chemicals at a situation does not always cure the problem. It is more complicated than that and requires a deeper understanding. We need to find a way to be the hope for those that are fighting this disease and those that will in the future. We are the decision makers in this case.

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