What would you do if you were diagnosed?
Not too long ago a man named Rhio O’Connor came into my life. It wasn’t so much the man but his story that I had stumbled upon, regardless what I found moved me and helped me to reflect upon my past and re-consider my future. His story is that of an older gentleman who had the misfortune of being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelial tissue. He was given a year to live, and little hope that any traditional cancer remedies, such as chemo, would cure him. However, at some point, Rhio decided that that decision wasn’t good enough for him, so he began to research his disease and other non-traditional procedures for cancer treatment. Through his extensive research and drive to survive Rio pro-longed his life for another 6 years. Just goes to show that knowledge is power. I sympathized with Rio’s story as it brought me back to when my mother and grandfather were both diagnosed with cancer just a year ago. My mother had breast cancer and my grandfather had bladder cancer that had mastisized to his lungs. Both have beaten the cancer and are now in remission but their stories certainly have similar correlations to that of Rhios’. Hearing and witnessing their experiences helps myself and I’m sure others to think about what they would do in that position and to contemplate the way they are living their own lives day to day.
My mother took a similar route as Rhio did. She threw herself into researching the disease. She wanted to know everything there was to know and everything she could do to find a cure for herself. She, of course, started with Google and stuck to websites that were .org, .edu or .gov affiliated. She then bought different books on breast cancer, which, if my memory is accurate, she read in almost a span of two days. My mother always ate right and exercised everyday, so she didn’t have much to change in her diet besides drinking less and eating more veggies and a “shit pile” more vitamin D and calcium, as she put it. In the end she got a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue, then that was followed up with six weeks of radiation. It was a shock to hear that she could contract such a disease. To me she was always thought of as some kind of wonder woman, impervious to human defects. Maybe that’s how all children view their parents, but if anything her success in defeating the cancer only solidified my belief.
In the case of my grandfather’s battle with cancer, he turned to the three assets he believes in the most…friends, family and god. Now my grandfather has faced his own morality before in the hospital. When I was younger he had had a heart attack and surgery afterward. So when it came time to decide what path for treatment he should take, he pretty much trusted in what the doctors told him. He received two rounds of chemo and a thoracic surgery for his lungs and surgery for the cancer in his bladder. He began exercising more, walking three miles a day, and to his astonishment he was able to keep his appetite, even eating more then he should have, he admits. But in the end the experience helped him to realize life’s limitations and to “take life each day as it comes, no crying and whining. Accept and live each day better.”
It’s interesting to me to see how each of my family members responded to their challenges. When interviewing them, my grandfather focused more on the life lessons he learned through his experience, not really focusing on the technical details, though he could name all his procedures if you asked him to. While my mom was quick to tell me all the medical terms and operations she researched, perhaps too quickly as she had to repeat most of them back to me more then once. However their experiences helped me to reflect on my own life, and to always make sure I’m doing what makes me happy and that I am living life to the fullest.
So to answer the question what would you do if you were diagnosed with a dire cancer prognosis, for instance mesothelioma, I can only speculate, as to what kind of treatment I might choose, as I do not know the type of mesothelioma. But hopefully I would want to find some sort of appreciation for the life I have now. I would have to accept my fate or strive to live each day better and overcome the cancer. My initial reaction at first I think would be along the lines of OH MY GODDDDDD WHAT?! and most likely there would be tears involved and angry frustrated fists would be thrown at pillows. But hopefully this purging of my emotions would only be my initial reaction, and at some point I could compose myself and decide what to do next.
My first step would be to make sure I am eating the right foods and exercising properly. Most cancer victims loose the desire to eat when the body needs lots of energy, meaning calories, to fight off the cancer. After seeing my mom and grandfather go through surgery safely, I would trust the doctor’s suggestions and routes for treatment. Now mesothelioma is a cancer found in the heart, lungs or abdomen, and it causes the protective lining or mesothelium of these organs to function abnormally.( www.survivingmesothelioma.com) The symptoms of mesothelioma are fever, nausea, sudden weight loss, chest pain and breathlessness. They are very similar to common diseases, which makes mesothelioma difficult to pinpoint and diagnose. Usually the three routes to take are surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and in most cases it is a combination of two of these three treatments. Of course I would want to hear what the doctors had to say and what possible steps I would have to take next. If the usual treatments were not available to me for some reason then I would look into some holistic treatments. However, if modern medicine and a healthy lifestyle still could not cure me then I would just start trying to live each day as healthy and fulfilling as I could. Meaning I would spend time with my family and friends, go places that I hadn’t seen yet, and try and document my experiences with my drawing and painting. I’ve always drawn since I was little and it has acted as some sort of relaxant for me. It puts me in a different state of mind and helps me to tune things out, so I believe this talent might be my greatest drug during treatment. In the end, however, as corny as it may sound, the most important thing is to remember that I am loved. I consider myself a very lucky person to have friends and family that are so close to me, and I know that they would be there for me in difficult times as they always are. So knowing that I have had a lifetime full of love is simply the best reason for me to enjoy each day that I have, cancer or no cancer.