“What Ifs”

I’ll never forget the day my family discovered that my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was at the age of about twelve, and was with my brother, sisters, and parents at a movie theater watching “National Treasure”. My dad’s cell phone rang, and we all gave him an evil look because he was interrupting the show, as well as violating the golden rule of leaving your cell phone turned on in a theater. He waited until the movie was over and we were driving home to tell us the news. What an awful feeling of uncertainty! Was my grandfather in pain? Was he scared? Could he still do all the fun stuff we did together, like swimming and hunting?

Now that I’m older, I appreciate the quality care that was given to my grandfather during his two year struggle. We took advantage of the time he had by spending it together as much as possible. Even though he was frequently in a hospital for a various treatment, my family always found a way to get a good visit in. The surgeons, oncologists, nurses, and other medical professionals treated him with skilled hands, using the latest technology. However, I can’t help but wonder about the “what ifs”. What if he had chosen more or less chemo treatments? What if he had chosen more or less medication? What if he had chosen to do nothing at all? I guess that’s why cancer is so disparaging; because of the “unknowns”.

With that little bit of experience with cancer in the family under my belt, I would at least have some knowledge to fall back on if I was ever faced with such a horrific diagnosis, myself.

The first thing I know I would do is turn to my parents, not only for emotional support, but because my mother works in the medical field and would definitely have some sound advice. She has a strong belief in chemical treatments of cancerous diseases. Her specialty is medical technology/pathology, and I would trust her decisions on required testing to determine the severity of my condition. Her resources are unlimited, including the American Society of Clinical Pathology and the College of American Pathologists. Surely, I would be in good hands upon the selection of physicians and facilities to use for treatment.

Not all outcomes are negative. My other grandfather, my mother’s dad, had a bout with prostate cancer, and after some radiation treatments, was considered “manageable”. He remains healthy at the age of eighty-three and takes hormone therapy to regulate his condition. Medical treatments can and do provide a positive look on life, as well as hope.

If however, for my situation, matters were beyond the control of medical intervention, I would probably have to do a lot of soul searching. I know I would talk to God; not so much for a cure, but for the strength and courage to do what was best. I’m not really sure that I understand holistic medicine. I do, however, understand that I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. It doesn’t make sense to put all my faith in one aspect of any process, especially the process of well being. Being left with an incurable diagnosis, I wouldn’t depend solely on drugs to make me feel better. Actually, feeling “okay” would probably be the best that could be expected.

I would put a lot of thought into improving my diet and lifestyle. Perhaps I would cut back on the foods laced with grease and preservatives, and take in more vitamins and natural herbs, instead. There are numerous “healthy recipes” available on the internet that could get me started. Perhaps I wouldn’t sleep all morning and hang out all night, but take in the natural benefits of daily sunshine and exercise. If I was able to remain in college, I could take more advantage of the physical fitness programs than I already do. Maybe keeping a daily log of what I eat and what I do would help me analyze my progress.

I know I would read more about Rhio O’Connor and the steps he took to lengthen his life.

It’s inspiring to know that a man could make such a drastic change for himself, simply by being determined to be educated. I would research my particular cancer thoroughly, using resources available to me in the university library and the internet, and try to make sense of statistics and how those numbers could relate to me. I would also use experiences of other victims to guide me. There are various support groups and organizations that provide just that type of personalization. Actual testimonies from actual people about living with cancer can be much more encouraging than a doctor’s report. Feeling like part of a group is therapy in itself.

Something else I know I would do is ignore all those tedious little rules of society that put such a damper on an average day, like turning off your cell phone when you’re in a movie theater. Life is too short to worry about formalities. I think being a non-conformist would be an acceptable indulgence, considering the circumstances.

By: DeLisle, Francis Wayne

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