Davalos, Carina – Surviving Mesothelioma

Davalos, Carina

James “Rhio” O’Conner has been an inspiration to me in many ways. I know and feel it is tough to be told that you have a fatal deadly condition. Devastation and ultimate despair seems to be the only possible reaction. But through this man’s eyes there was hope. That, I believe, is what kept him alive. It was his conviction of living that made him live and that brings me happiness, I know if I were to face a terminal disease today I would not let the doctors, science, popular opinion, prophets of gloom, society at large, or the disease itself to take control of me. I know that together as Rhio did I can defy fate with every new hope that grows in my mind and in my heart.

I am still young, and I give thanks to God because I am healthy and yet I don’t want to pretend suffering and pain does not exist. But what I am certain is that in all my walks of life I know that there is good out there and is up to me to look for it. I have direct experience about terminal illness. My grandfather was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma cancer which affected his lungs, took toll of his heart and then a tumor in his brain. It was so far spread he was only given three months to live. Besides the gravity and the advance level of the disease, I feel that what killed grandfather most rapidly was the new prophet of science. The moment the doctor uttered the words “You are going to die” with no remorse heartlessly, as a matter of fact inevitable description of what was about to happen, my grandfather was caught in a sad, unfair, but for him very real, self full feeling prophecy. As he heard those words he lost his capacity to fight, to hope, to struggle maybe even his capacity to wanting to live anymore. Since then, those words as the ultimate sentence of a judge were recorded in his mind until the day he passed away.

That makes me realize how powerful words can be. But it also makes me understand that the mind is even more powerful than words. If that doctor would have told my grandfather “you got a grave disease, but with treatment, care, patience, and hope we can fight it together so you can be well again” I feel that today my grandfather would still be alive. I don’t think doctors have to give false hopes. It is not about being patronizing or condescending, it is about building confidence, faith and strength to those who are suffering. I can see how in Rhio’s case, he was so strong that he didn’t care what the doctor told him. He was determined to find a way out no matter what those medical reports would say. His confidence, his strength, was not in the reports, or in the words of science. He had a deeper, spiritual force, knowing that there is a higher power that will make all things good if we have faith and believe in it. There is no half way there is no warm it’s either your hot or cold about it.

The strength and the example of Rhio are commendable. But in all honesty I still think that if life where to change for me today and I was told that I had a deadly cancer only to live for three weeks, six months or a year I would be devastated. My first response would be “you’re lying to me” my second reaction would be complete quietness, silence. I would be deep into thought “how would I tell my family”, “should I tell my family” or “Why me of all people in this world”. It would be then maybe that I would use all my will power, I will remember Rhio, and above all grandpa and then I would know I have to think positive, with the awareness that although not alone, the experience of living through this situation won’t be the doctors, or the family but my own. I would believe that I was chosen not to fall into inevitability but to overcome this sickness that has taken many lives. I would accept that what the doctor would tell me is a serious medical condition but I would accept even with more conviction that deep in my heart I would be stronger than the illness, that I would make it go away. I would believe that it is not meant to take toll of my body or my mind. I will overcome it and prove that through faith and positive thinking it is possible.

I would be ready for a fight, a fight against accepted scientific ideas that have pervaded into common beliefs. This is not about denying science it is going beyond it. My first step in this fight would be to know the enemy. Through research I would be getting different opinions of doctors who are experienced in this field of cancer. Seeing each doctor I would have many questions that will help me conduct my research properly and effectively. My next step would be checking out research papers on different types of cancer and checking the side effects. I would study natural herbs that could be good to take for these side effects. I believe that there is something better in taking Mother Nature’s medicine rather than taking medicine made in a lab.

I would certainly be open to new technologies, but I’ll place my hopes in them into perspective not being utterly dependent on them. Nowadays the only solution for cancer is chemotherapy which reduces the chances of spreading it to some percentage. But I wouldn’t put all my faith in a machine that even the doctors would hesitate about their efficiency. So at this point I would look beyond the only “accepted” solution so that I could broaden my research into finding something that could work.

Mesothelioma is a technical form of calling it cancer in one’s body it can affect your lungs, heart, and abdomen. There is many cases in the United States affecting people of all ages and has a bigger chance to be found in men. It is an aggressive cancer that can cause the cancerous cells in the membrane that have developed to divide rapidly among the body making the chances of life shorter. It can cause fluid buildup and can form tumors.

The truth about cancer is that there is no real cure for it. We live in a world of opportunity, of free will, of freedom of speech, of nanotechnology, and spaceships, and despite all the research and development of new techniques for palliating the symptoms of cancer, we still cannot find a cure for one of the deadliest disease that has taken millions of lives. It is this uncertainty about cancer that causes one of its most devastating side effects; fear, a fear that paralyzes all hopes and often all desire to live. A fear that makes so many give up in their minds and their bodies. I feel Rhio found the cure for this tragic side effect of cancer. I believe that the greater discovery of Rhio’s experience is that in fighting this side effect in our minds we are also fighting the disease in our bodies. Today’s scientific society has not yet been able to fully integrate these two deeply intertwined realities, mind and body. Our body is not divided into a digestive system, nervous system, circulatory system, etc. It is all a unity, artificially divided only for scientific purposes. What we do, what we feel, what we eat, what we know, what we say… is all connected and each influence the other. It may all start with dry words you don’t want to hear, but it all ends with the true feeling in your heart.

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