de Behr, Corinna | Surviving Mesothelioma

de Behr, Corinna

The Fight with Cancer

Rhio O’Connor was an impressive man who battled cancer. He was diagnosed with a dire form of cancer called malignant mesothelioma. According to “Mesothelioma Introduction” in Cancermonthly, “Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs.” Furthermore, studies report median survival of less than a year, and exposure to asbestos increases the risk of cancer. Rhio O’Connor was told that he had one year left to live, but instead of accepting this, he did extensive research and talked to a variety of doctors, researchers, and patients. His efforts were successfully invested because he was able to extend his life for another five years. I think his strong will to survive is impressive and inspiring. He is definitely a role model and gives hope to patients who are also diagnosed with a dire cancer.

Paul Kraus is another man who successfully survived this type of cancer. He was told that he had only a couple of months left to live. He also did extensive research, and unbelievably he is still alive after twelve years. His book Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers is a patient’s guide that can give hope to many cancer patients. As a matter of fact, newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients are able to get a free copy of Kraus’s book. This patient’s guide is available on www.survivingmesothelioma.com.

Cancer can strike anyone, including several members of my own family. My grandmother, grandfather, and great-grandfather died of cancer, and each dealt with the disease differently. My great-grandfather committed suicide to end his misery. On the other hand, my grandmother had cancer for over six years. The doctors were not able to do surgery because the cancer was attached to her liver, kidney, and aorta. Therefore, she had three strong doses of chemotherapy, and each therapy lasted four to six weeks. Every time the chemicals were injected, she had nausea with vomiting and stomach cramps, and inevitably she lost her hair, which grew back very slowly. Furthermore, she received regular doses of morphine during her final year to ease her terrible pain, but the dose was increased every month because it became gradient ineffective.

This was sad and devastating, not only for me but our entire family, to see someone we loved so much endure such great pain and then in the end lose this person. I often think about my great-grandfather and my grandmother and wonder how I would handle the situation if I were diagnosed with a dire cancer.

After my grandmother’s experience, I made a promise to myself. If I were ever diagnosed with cancer like mesothelioma, I would seek several different physicians’ opinions. I would want to know what my prognosis and options were and how long I would have to live. After researching reliable sources, such as books and journals, in a library, I would search for options to fight my cancer, but I also would look for possible consequences to each treatment. Talking to people who had the same type of cancer is another helpful source. For example with my grandmother, the chances of successful treatment with surgery or chemotherapy were limited. I am aware that now there are experimental treatments and “wonder” products that may miraculously improve one’s cancer, and I believe, if everything was hopeless, I would even investigate those options. I also would consider changing my diet dramatically. I have researched the link between poor dietary choices and cancer treatments. As a matter of fact, I would even change my d iet to exclusively raw fruits and vegetables. I have read different articles on this which suggests that patients were able to increase their ability to fight cancer with raw food.

My great-grandfather made a decision that I would not be able to do. For me suicide would not be an answer. I can imagine that if one is in great pain, one may want to end his or her life as soon as possible, but I do not think I would be able to do it. I would rather use the time left to say goodbye to my family.

I think that my age would also play a role in my decision. If I were younger, I would want to fight the cancer even more to be able to live a couple of years longer. But, if I were older, for example 70 or 80, I think I would want to spend the last days of my life without the physical stresses of medications and chemotherapy. I would not choose to do surgery or other extreme chemical treatments. I would want to say goodbye to my family and closest friends and spend my last days in a quiet and pleasant surrounding with no stress. Maybe I would find a tropical island, where I could be together with my family and bask in the calm of nature.

My last step would be to donate my body and a part of my legacy to medical research to find methods to treat and cure this horrible disease. This way I might be able to help future cancer victims improve their chances of survival.

Overall, the chances of long-term survival of a dire cancer are very small. I saw what my great-grandfather and grandmother went through; therefore, depending on my age and prognosis, I would either fight against the cancer with every possible opportunity, or I would spend the last days of my life with my family and closest friends. If I were younger, then I would do extensive research, get information from different physicians and even from people who are having a similar experience. Furthermore, I would try experimental and dietary treatments to increase my chances of surviving.

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