Combs, Katherine | Surviving Mesothelioma

Combs, Katherine

Did you know that 2,000-3,000 cases of Mesothelioma are diagnosed each year? For James “Rhio” O’Connor this diagnoses was forbidden to take his life. He fought to save his life when the doctors announced that his body consumed of the most common type of this disease; Pleuaral Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma causes the covering of all major organs to function abnormally. The symptoms of this illness include fever, nausea, chest pain, sudden weight loss, and breathlessness. The main cause of “Meso”, which was evident in Rhio’s case, is the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers or dusts. Rhio’s story has inspired me to never give up and to have an optimistic spirit no matter what bridge needs to be crossed.

I cannot imagine hearing the words, “Katherine, you have Mesothelioma and you are not expected to live after eleven months.” The news of agony would eat me alive. Initially, thoughts of negativity would devour my mind. I would ask myself, “What about my family?” How are we going to pay for this?” “How could something like this happen to me?” “What am I going to do to stop this?” After hearing Rhio’s story, I would take action. The decision would be mine. I would choose to shove the negative thoughts aside, ignore the horrifying statistics, and persevere toward a cancer free life just as Rhio did.

After the phase of mental and physical shock, I would remember I was born to do great things and to never sacrifice the opportunities of life. The first step of my healing process would be to pray. I would first praise God for the time he has given me to serve on his Earth. I would thank him for all of my health and physical ability. I would acknowledge that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Lastly, I would thank God in advance for the healing process he would perform in my life and for the encouragement my story would bring to others enduring similar struggles. I would put all of my trust in Him and ask for strength and determination. My next step to wholeness would be to research the illness. I would explore the symptoms of this deadly disease and how to treat them. I would spend hours in the library and on the internet searching for ways to attack the enemy. Next, I would seek advice from physicians and clinicians. I would ask them what level of activity I should pursue, what medicines are available, and other medical questions. Finally, I would live life to the fullest. This diagnosis would teach me that life is too short to pass by without making the most of it. I would make a list of all the extravagant journeys I have wished to pursue throughout the entirety of my life. I would live like I was dying because I would not know what the next day had to bring.

Just as Rhio researched, I would also search for facts about the disease invading my body. I would learn what types of food trigger and reduce the symptoms of Mesothelioma. After being conscious of what goes into my body, I would find what activity level is best for my body during this time of trauma. With the help of clinicians, Rhio changed his diet, created his own daily supplements, and used self discipline. The only option remaining is to realize I am doing everything in my power to be as healthy as I can because my body is a temple and God will take care of the rest.

Rhio’s influential book “They said months, I Chose Years: Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” inspires and reminds all that there are numerous ways to manage cancer. His story is not only encouraging to cancer victims but to anyone who has or will ever faced any struggle in life. This autobiography shares his prognosis and the hardship of not being able to have surgery or chemotherapy. The tumor was located near his spine thus the operation would not be safe and chemotherapy would harm the quality of his life and the benefits would be limited. The average life expectancy after being diagnosed with Mesothelioma is approximately one year. Beating the odds, Rhio died at the age of 69, seven and a half years after his diagnoses. The persevering patient proclaimed that even “Mr. Meso” could not take his life.

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